Tag Archives: IAAF Diamond League

Gloria Asumnu to face world’s best in 100m @ Continental Cup

12 Sep

Nigerian sprinter Gloria Asumnu will represent Team Africa in the 100m at theIAAF Continental Cup in Marrakech this weekend, following the withdrawal of national, African and Commonwealth champion, Blessing Okagbare.

The competition was meant to be Okagbare’s last outing for the season, but her sixth place finish in the 200m at the second final of the IAAF Diamond League in Brussels last week was perhaps an indication that the African record holder needed to take a break after a long and eventful season, which saw her emerge as double sprint champion at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and African title holder in Marrakech.

Her place in the African team will now be taken by Asumnu, who finished second at the National Trials in Calabar in June where she clocked a Season’s Best (SB) of 11.15s. The former African 200m champion will now team up with Cote d’Ivoire’s Marie J Ta Lou Gonezie to represent the African continent in the 100m.

Asumnu represented Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games where she placed eight in the final and won silver in the 4x100m behind Jamaica. She proceeded to the African Championships where she finished fourth in the final which had three Nigerians, with a time of 11.49s, while Lawretta Ozoh placed seventh in 11.74s.

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She also ran the first leg in the 4x100m race, which was won by Nigeria. However she lost her 200m crown to double silver medallist at the 2013 World Championships, Murielle Ahouré (22.36s), finishing fifth this time around, while team mate, Dominique Duncan emerged the surprise medallist, taking bronze in 22.98s.

Asumnu’s SB puts her 36th in 2014 world rankings, and incidentally ranks higher than Ta Lou Gonezie who has posted 11.20s as her fastest time this season, and is 43rd on the list. They will be facing Michelle-Lee Ahye and Veronica Campbell-Brown who will be representing the Americas. Ahye has the second fastest time in 2014 (10.85s), while Campbell-Brown is No.4 with 10.86s.

They would also have to be wary of the threat the European pair of Dafne Schippers and Myriam Soumaré pose, as they jointly occupy the 13th spot in the rankings with 11.03s and would be aiming to go under 11s for the first time. Asia-Pacific’s Melissa Breen (24th with 11.11s) and Olga Safronova (54th with 11.23s) complete the field.

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Gloria Asumnu will be representing Team Africa in the women’s 100m on Saturday Sept 13th at 8.40pm.

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm!

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Okagbare rues missed chance in 100m Diamond League Final, seeks redemption in 200m!

30 Aug
The absence of world leader and major contender for the jackpot in the women’s 100m, Tori Bowie at the Zurich leg of the IAAF Diamond League, was meant to be a blessing in disguise (no pun intended) for Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, but it was Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown who stole the show at the end of the day as she coasted home in 11.04s, to win the $50,000 at stake.

Murielle Ahouré was a close second (also in 11.04s), while Okagbare posted 11.06s in third place in the first series of finals for the Diamond League, which ends with a second series of finals on September 5th in Brussels, where she will be going for the 200m, and where 15 other events would be decided.

Bowie pulled out of the Zurich 100m due to injury she sustained in the Birmingham leg of the meet, which made Zurich a winner takes all affair as anyone who won it could have taken home the 100m Diamond Race crown. Prior to the race, Okagbare occupied 6th place in the 100m standings, and victory in Zurich would have handed her the top prize as long as Kerron Stewart, who occupied 2nd place in the Race with 7 points, did not finish as the runner-up; the Jamaican finished a distant fifth in 11.19s and Blessing would no doubt be ruing her lost chance. A win in the final would have been the African & Commonwealth Champion’s first ever in the Diamond League series.

Okagbare has run more 200m races than 100 this year, as the race in Zurich was only her fourth in the Diamond League. However, she was sensational in the Commonwealth where she claimed the sprint double with a Championship Record (CR) of 10.85s in the 100m, and 22.25s in the 200m. Even though she confessed in Marrakech, venue of the African Senior Championships, that she was already tired and hoping to bring her season to an end in Brussels, she will be hoping to bounce back to take the 200m in Brussels, where she is a top contender for the prize, currently in second place with 11 points, behind Allyson Felix who reached 13 points following the Nigerian’s absence in Stockholm a little over a week ago.

Not only would she have Felix to deal with in Brussels, but also Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands who recently posted a National Record (NR) and world leading time of 22.03s at the European Championships!

Okagbare could win $50,000 with Zurich Diamond League VICTORY, while Usain Bolt ends his 2014 season early!

28 Aug

Next stop…Zurich. Fans of Nigeria’s No.1 sprinting sensation, Blessing Okagbare will have to wait no more as the athlete resumes action at the IAAF Diamond League on Thursday, August 28 in Zurich, Switzerland where she will compete in the 100m in a STACKED field that includes Veronica Campbell-Brown (SB 10.86s), Murielle Ahouré (10.97s) and Allyson Felix (11.01s) amongst others.

Okagbare took a break from the prestigious series to compete in her first Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (July 23 to August 3) where she claimed the 100/200m sprint double. In the 100m, she breasted the tape in the 100m with a Season’s Best (SB) and Championship Record (CR) of 10.85s, denying former world champion, Campbell-Brown a much sought after victory in the event. The Jamaican is yet to win an individual title at the Commonwealth Games, having won two silver medals in the 100m (2002 and 2014) and another in the 200m (2006).

The Nigerian maintained her stellar performance this season by reclaiming her African title in the 100m at the African Senior Championships in Marrakech where she stormed to the crown with a CR of 11.00s flat, also denying fierce rival, Ahouré of Cote d’Ivoire her first African title in the event. Okagbare however pulled out of the 200m, which Ahouré dominated easily with a time of 22.36s.

Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands will be looking to go under 11 seconds for the first time. The Dutchwoman sneaked in a win in the 200m at the Glasgow leg of the series where she stunned Felix (22.35s) and Okagbare (22.41s) to win the title with a National Record (NR) of 22.34s – she has since lowered the Dutch NR to a world leading 22.03s this season at the European Championships! Her 100m PB of 11.03s set in the B race of the Glasgow Diamond League 100m is also a National Record – not bad for a heptathlete! 

This race is only Okagbare’s fourth 100m in the Diamond League this year, and she is yet to secure a victory in the event. She finished second behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the very first meeting in Doha, but didn’t finish her race in Lausanne after she slipped. She placed fourth in Monaco behind Bowie, Campbell-Brown and Ahoure. She occupies a distant sixth place in the standings with just 2 Diamond League points while Tori Bowie sits at the top with 12 points. However Bowie, who has the world leading time of 10.80s this season, will be the only big name missing. She has had to withdraw after pulling up injured in the 100m in the Birmingham Diamond League meet at the weekend.    

The most fascinating aspect of the IAAF Diamond League, are the double points awarded in the final race of each event, with 16 Diamond Races being decided in Zurich, and the final 16 being decided in Brussels next week! This annual twist in events adds to the excitement of the final races, as an athlete currently ranking in third or fourth place, could change their fortunes just by winning the final race. So while a few races are practically over, in many other races, the athletes will battle till the very last second or centimetre!

The rules also state that one must compete in the final race of their event to win the Diamond Race crown, so despite having amassed a near unassailable lead, Bowie’s absence blows the 200m Diamond Race right open, and means that in a dramatic twist of fate, Okagbare could win her FIRST ever Diamond League crown with a WIN, so long as Kerron Stewart, who currently occupies 2nd place in the Race with 7 points, does not finish as the runner-up in Zurich! 

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Standings before FINAL race (Zurich). Diamond League competitors get 4 points for a win,2 points for 2nd place, and 1 point for 3rd, but these points are DOUBLED for the final race!

1st place in each Diamond League event takes home $10,000 and the overall winner for the Diamond Race in each event each season takes home $40,000. This means that a $50,000 windfall is at stake for Blessing and her rivals in Zurich – every single woman in the race has a mathematical chance of taking home the 200m Diamond Race Crown!

Meanwhile, $50,000 is small change for the likes of Usain Bolt, so he does not compete regularly in the Diamond League, instead prioritising meets that can afford the appearance fees he commands – anywhere from $250,000 per race, up to $500,000 which he received for the London Anniversary Games last year! He has pulled out of the Zurich meet, bringing an early end to his 2014 campaign. Zurich was meant to be the last competition for the Jamaican multiple world and Olympic champion, who clocked 9.98s in Warsaw on Saturday night to set an unofficial 100m indoor record, previously held by Frankie Fredericks in 10.05s – the 100m is never run indoors, but prior to the race Bolt cheekily asked for the stadium roof to be closed to claim the unofficial record! 

It was only Bolt’s second individual and fourth race of an injury-hampered season. His other two outings were at the Commonwealth Games where he made his debut by anchoring the 4x100m team to gold with a CR of 37.58s. It would have been fun to watch Bolt re-ignite his rivalry with former world champion, Tyson Gay (9.93s) of the US who would be attempting the sprint double in Zurich. Nevertheless, the 100m still promises to be exciting, as Gay’s fellow returnee Asafa Powell, who returned a stunning SB of 9.87s a few days ago in Austin, and newly crowned European 100m & 200m Champions, James Dasaolu and Adam Gemili will also be on show!

The Zurich Diamond League will be shown LIVE on SuperSports 2 from 7-9pm on Thursday, with Blessing’s 100m race at 7.59pm SHARP! YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS!

Regina George & Tosin Oke return to the Diamond League, as Okagbare goes for 200m record

10 Jul

Nigeria’s poster girl in the 400m, Regina George will make a much awaited return to the IAAF Diamond League, in the ninth leg, tagged the ‘Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix’ slated to hold on July 11 and 12 in the Scottish city which will be hosting the Commonwealth Games later this month.

George’s race, which comes up at 8.38pm on Friday (July 11), will count as only the second Diamond League event she has featured in this season. The first was in Shanghai (May 18) where she finished eighth with a time of 51.39s. The 23 year old has not recorded much progress in the individual 400m since then, though she did post a top-notch performance at the inaugural IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas, where she led Nigeria’s 4x400m to a bronze medal with an impressive 49.4s split on the second leg, which was the fastest by any athlete in the race.

Her chase for a third Nigerian title ended in a shock defeat for George, as she finished outside the podium during the national trials held in Calabar last month. Her fellow World Relay Bronze medallists finished ahead of her – Folashade Abugan won the title in 51.39s, with Omolara Omotosho and Patience Okon George crossing the finish line ahead of Regina, who placed fourth with 51.67s.

Nevertheless her victory in Tuesday’s Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix may boost her confidence ahead of Friday’s race, even though she could only manage a winning time of 52.11s. Compatriot Gloria Asumnu also featured in the women’s 100m where she returned a time of 11.58 in fifth place, just after former world champion, Carmelita Jeter who was fourth with an SB of 11.56s.

George comes into the two-day competition with an SB of 51.30s and will face the herculean task of trying to upstage some of the big names in the women’s 400m including Olympic champion, Sanya Richards-Ross who won the event in Paris last week. Former world champion, Amantle Montsho who is the Commonwealth Games defending champion and USA Champion Francena McCorory will also be on ground to spice up the race, alongside the Jamaican duo of Ann Stephanie Ann McPherson and Novlene Williams-Mills. Reigning world champion, Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain is not expected to pose a challenge as she comes to the competition with the slowest SB among the pack (53.14s).

Another Nigerian interest, in the men’s triple jump, is Tosin Oke, who currently doubles as the African and Commonwealth Games champion. The Nigerian champion no doubt wants to test the waters ahead of the Commonwealth Games, and is in form to do so, going by his jump of 17.21m at the national trials in Calabar, which equalled the third best jump of his career. He goes against a star studded field which includes two London 2012 Olympic medallists, Christian Taylor and Will Claye and Cuba’s Ernesto Reve who has an SB of 17.58m. This event comes up on Saturday (July 12) at 3.50pm at Hampden Park.

Last but by no means the least, Nigeria’s sprint queen Blessing Okagbare will once again race in the 200m on Saturday at 4.07pm. The Sainsbury Grand Prix surely holds a special place in the sprinter’s heart, going by her exploits during last year’s edition of the event, which was held in London to commemorate the Olympic Games. The Delta State athlete set a new African record of 10.86s in the heats, which eclipsed Glory Alozie’s existing record of 10.90s, and further lowered her time to win the final an hour later in 10.79s.

Okagbare has been concentrating on the 200m this season and will be looking forward to setting a record over the event soon. 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 of all time, after Mary Onyali (22.07s) and Falilat Ogunkoya (22.22s).  Will the Sainsbury Grand Prix be the place where she sets another African record? World leader, Tori Bowie (22.18s), three-time world champion Allyson Felix and Jamaica’s double world champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce will be forces to contend with come Saturday.

The women’s 100m race comes up on Saturday and Cote d’Ivoire’s Murielle Ahouré will run in the 100m alongside world leader this season, Trinidad & Tobago’s Michelle Lee-Ahye (10.85s), Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and USA’s Carmelita Jeter, who is still struggling to hit top form this season. Jeter, the second fastest woman ever and former world champion comes to the meeting with an unimpressive SB of 11.56s.

Also watch out for Botswana’s Isaac Makwala who recently emerged as Africa’s fastest man in the 400m. The sprinter erased Gary Kikaya’s eight-year record of 44.10s with a new time of 44.01s at the Resisprint International meeting in the Switzerland, and then returned a time of 19.96s in the 200m to set another national record just ninety minutes later!

Jamaican star, Yohan Blake is the big name in the men’s 100m which takes place on Friday. He will go against Great Britain’s James Dasaolu, USA’s Michael Rodgers and Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago amongst others.

 

Follow the Glasgow Diamond League LIVE on Supersport, Friday 7-9pm SS6A (DSTV 206), AND Saturday 3-5pm SS2A (DSTV 202)

 

 

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

 

 

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