5.)  Blessing Okagbare vs Muriell Ahouré & Marie Josée Ta Lou

Who between these two Ivorians: Murielle Ahouré and Marie Josée Ta Lou will be Blessing Okagbare’s biggest challenger this season? 

Cote d'Ivoire's Marie Josee Ta Lou won the sprint double at the 2015 African Games
Cote d’Ivoire’s Marie Josee Ta Lou won the sprint double at the 2015 African Games

Since 2012, Ahouré and Okagbare have been Africa’s best shot at having a global queen, but Ta Lou has thrown down the gauntlet to make it three-pronged this season.

When these three met at the 2014 African Championship in Marrakech, it was a one-two-three finish: Okagbare GOLD in a CR of 11.00s, Ahouré Silver in 11.03s and Ta Lou Bronze in 11.20s. The rivalry has been building up and can reach feverish heights this year.

2015 World Championships, Rio 2016, 2016 AAC
Okagbare will no longer worry about just Ahouré, there is Ta Lou to contend with. Photo Credit: Making of Champions/ PaV media

They ran together at the Paris Diamond League last year. Okagbare placed 2nd with a Season’s Best of 10.80s, and Ahouré 5th in 11.04s, and her compatriot, Ta Lou 6th in 11.06s. Ta Lou may lack the type of recognition Okagbare and Ahouré have; however she sure sounded alarm bells with her double heroics at the 2015 African Games.

Consider that Okagbare and Ahouré are at their predatory best in the 100m with PBs of 10.79s (African Record) and 10.81s (Ivory Coast’s NR), Ta Lou will see the 200m as her best opportunity at getting one over them. Remember she narrowly missed out of the 200m final at the World Championships, running a PB of 22.56s.

IMG_0487 copy Okagbare, Ahoure & Gonezie
Ahouré, Okagbare and Ta Lou at the 2014 AAC in Marrakech

It could be between Okagbare and Ahouré though as they have competed at the highest level, but Ta Lou could gatecrash the party. While contending with just Ahouré, Okagbare slightly had the upper hand. The only time Ahouré ran faster than her in 2015 was at the Prefontaine Classic, where the Ivorian finished 2nd in 10.81s, and Okagbare 4th with 10.87s.

Ahouré is capable of big things though, a former double World Championships medallist. If she can sort out her finishing to match her bullet start, she would definitely get into Okagbare’s hair as both hope to wrestle the Olympic title from World Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Just like in 2013, will Ahouré be smiling again in 2015? Photo Credit: malmogames.com
Just like in 2013, will Ahouré be smiling again in 2015? Photo Credit: malmogames.com

A tough ask, but don’t rule out this ensuing rivalry that will include Ta Lou, maybe Okagbare’s 100m African Record will cave in this year.



Rio 2016, African Athletics Championship
Could Ta Lou have come of age to challenge both Okagbare and Ahoure?

Athletics coverage was a discovery, having to move away from regularly writing about Football. Although it was initially daunting, but now being an authority in it makes the past effort worthwhile. From travelling on the same international flight with Nigerian athletes, to knowing you could easily interview: World Record holder Tobi Amusan, then Ese Brume, I have cut my teeth in this beat earning the trust of Athletics sources. Formerly the Content Manager-Sports at Ringier media Nigeria, Chris is a Senior Sports writer, Photographer & Community manager at Making of Champions.



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