Okagbare sets the pace in Paris with 200m victory!

6 Jul

Nigeria’s queen of the track Blessing Okagbare bounced back to winning ways during Saturday’s IAAF Diamond League Meeting at the Stade de France in Paris, where she returned a time of 22.32s to secure a win in the women’s 200m. This feat counts as her third victory in her 2014 Diamond League campaign and ninth overall in her career.

This victory will have re-confirmed Blessing’s position as a favourite for Commonwealth GOLD medals in the sprints later this month. In the 100 metres only two days ago in Lausanne, Okagbare did not finish the race after she stumbled out of the blocks, but she quickly shook off that disappointment and took the day in a keenly contested 200m race, which had the likes of Olympic champion, USA’s Allyson Felix and World Champion over 100m and 200m, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica in tow. 

Okagbare, no doubt aided by her longer strides, held her form well in the final 80m to edge out the stadium record holder Felix, who had taken the lead just around the curve. Felix, a three-time world champion, finished with a Season’s Best (SB) of 22.34s, just 0.02s off Blessing’s winning time.  Anthonique Strachan of the Bahamas was third in 22.54s, while Fraser-Pryce, who is still battling with her fitness levels, finished a disappointing fifth in 22.63s. 

Okagbare’s exploits have earned her the top spot in the 200m ranking with 10 Diamond Race points in her kitty. She won the event at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix in May with a Meeting Record (MR) of 22.36, and the long jump as well (with another MR of 6.86m). She also finished second in the 200 (behind sprinting revelation, Tori Bowie of the US) at the subsequent Diamond League meeting in Oregon with a Personal Best (PB) of 22.23s. Barring an upturn in Fraser-Pryce’s form this season, Okagbare is looking like the favourite to win the 200m GOLD at the Commonwealth Games!

In other events, the men’s 100m turned out to be a dramatic one following the disqualification of Jamaica’s Nickel Ashmeade, who spent several minutes on the track protesting his false start before eventually being ushered away.  USA’s Michael Rodgers eventually won the race in 10 seconds flat, while Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson and 38 year-old Kim Collins of St Kitts & Nevis placed second and third in 10.08 and 10.10 (SB) respectively. Great Britain’s Chijindu Ujah, who was  competing in the Diamond League for the first time ever, placed sixth with 10.20s, while former European champion Christophe Lemaitre, despite massive home support, was unable to give his fans much to cheer, as he was the last athlete to cross the finish line –  he did however post an SB of 10.28s.

French fans however did have a hat-trick of wins to be excited about –  Renaud Lavillenie’s domination in the men’s Pole Vault with 5.70m,  Eloyse Lesueur, who upstaged USA’s Triple World Champion Brittney Reese in the Long Jump, with a PB of 6.92m, and  Benjamin Compaore, who emerged the surprise winner of the Men’s Triple Jump in 17.12m, just 1cm ahead of Olympic champion, USA’s Christian Taylor! 

Reigning 400m Olympic champion, Sanya Richards-Ross crossed the line in 50.10s to secure her first Diamond League win this season, a huge improvement from her first race of the season in Eugene, where she placed a distant sixth with a time of 51.29s. African and Commonwealth Champion Amantle Montsho could only salvage a fourth place finish (50.70s) in what was her fourth Diamond League outing in 2014, after Shanghai, Eugene and Oslo. 

With the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, Montsho will have her work cut out to stave off competition from Stephanie Ann McPherson and Novlene Williams-Mills to retain her 400m title – the Jamaican duo finished ahead of her in Paris in second and third, with times of 50.40s and 50.68s respectively!

The next leg of the IAAF Diamond League is slated to hold between July 11 and 12 in Glasgow, venue of the Commonwealth Games later this month!


2014 Diamond League Calendar

Doha, QAT – 9 May

Shanghai, CHN – 18 May

Eugene, USA – 31 May

Rome, ITA – 5 Jun

Oslo, NOR – 11 Jun

New York, USA – 14 Jun

Lausanne, SUI – 3 Jul

Paris, FRA – 5 Jul

Glasgow, GBR – 11-12 Jul

Monaco, MON – 18 Jul

Stockholm, SWE – 21 Aug

Birmingham, GBR – 24 Aug

Zurich, SUI – 28 Aug

Brussels, BEL – 5 Sep



2 Responses to “Okagbare sets the pace in Paris with 200m victory!”

  1. Mark Butler July 7, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    These are excellent interviews with the Americo-Nigerians (and also Alex Al-Ameen). Good for you for trying to get details of their Nigerian connections. Which you did for all but Ty Akins.


  1. Regina George & Tosin Oke return to the Diamond League, as Okagbare goes for 200m record | Making of Champions - July 10, 2014

    […] She currently tops the Diamond League rankings with 10 points, having won the 200m in Shanghai and Paris, and placed second in Eugene with a Personal Best of 22.23s, making her the third fastest Nigerian […]

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