Tag Archives: Regina George

Nigeria’s Top 12 Athletics Performers in 2014 (PART II)

23 Oct

On Tuesday we started the countdown of our TOP 12 athletics performers whom we think stood out exceptionally well for the Green-White-Green of Nigeria, listing Nos. 12-7.  We now conclude the series with Nos. 6-1!

6. FOLASHADE ABUGAN:

The 2014 season couldn’t have gone much better for Abugan, given that teammate Regina George started the year as Nigeria’s undisputed leading quarter-miler. Abugan surprisingly claimed the 400m National title in 51.21s ahead of two-time defending champion, George, who had been favoured to make it a hattrick of national titles. She went on to consolidate her position as Nigeria’s new No. 1 by finishing in a commendable 5th place at Commonwealth Games, and then winning the African title in 51.21s again, in a photo finish ahead of Zambia’s National Football Team Captain, Kabange Mupopo. She capped off her outstanding season by helping Team Africa to a 3rd place finish in the 4x400m at the Continental Cup, and she has been ever-present in the mile relay team, which won medals at the World Relays, Commonwealth Games and African Championships this season! IMG_0675 copy

5. DIVINE ODUDURU:

The Delta State athlete had a break-out 2014. After winning the men’s 200m in 20.87s ahead of recently naturalized Monzavous Edwards, to the surprise of many at the Nigerian Trials, few would have guessed that Oduduru would lower his time by more than a further half second this year. Though his official PB remains 20.66s which he ran at the semi-finals of the World Junior Championships in USA, he went on to equal the fifth fastest man of Nigeria’s all-time list in the 200m when he raced to a Silver medal in the final of the World Juniors in with 20.25s! The staggering time was wind-assisted (over 2m/s tailwind) and hence doesn’t count for official record purposes – what does count is that he claimed Nigeria’s only medal in the World U-20 category in the last 2 editions! He is the first Nigerian to run that fast in the 200m since Deji Aliu did it 12 years ago!

Nigeria’s 200 metres TOP FIVE (All-time)
1. Francis Obikwelu – 19.84s (1999), 20.01 (2000), 20.05 & 20.06 (1999)
2. Daniel Effiong – 20.10 (1994)
3. Olapade Adeniken – 20.11 (1992)
4. Oluyemi Kayode (RIP) – 20.22 (1992)
5. Davidson Ezinwa – 20.25 (1992)
5. Deji Aliu – 20.25 (2002)
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4. TOSIN OKE:

The triple jumper has been the most consistent male athlete for the country this season in terms of medal winning. He leapt to a fifth national title and SB of 17.21m at the Nigerian Championships, which was only 2cm down from his lifetime best. He went to the Commonwealth Games as the defending champion but missed out on the GOLD medal by finishing 2nd behind South Africa’s Khotso Mokoena, before suffering the same fate at the African Championships in Morocco. He narrowly missed out on a place on the podium with a 4th place finish at the Continental Cup, posting a jump of 16.89m.

2014 has been the “Year of the Silver” for Oke. Speaking exclusively to MAKING OF CHAMPIONS, he stated that he wants to represent Nigeria at one more Olympics at Rio 2016 before hanging up his jumping spikes!

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3. WOMEN’S 4X400M RELAY TEAM:

Nigeria’s female mile relay squad have been the most consistent set of athletes for the country this year. After starting the season with an African Indoor Record of 3:29.67s in the semis at the World Indoor Championships in Poland, they ran an improved time of 3:27.16s, placing 2nd behind USA at the Penn Relays, with Regina George running a 50.49s anchor leg to overhaul Jamaica.

The best was yet to come, as the quartet of Folashade Abugan, Regina George, Omolara Omotosho and Patience George ran the 3rd fastest time ever by a Nigerian quartet, a blistering 3:23.41s to claim bronze at the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas. On that occasion Regina George ran a mind boggling 49.4s split on the 2nd leg to help the team to the Bronze – hopefully it is a sign of greater things in the coming years!

L-R: Sade Abugan, Regina George, Omolara Omotosho & Patience Okon George celebrate their fantastic World Relay Bronze in the 4x400m

L-R: Sade Abugan, Regina George, Omolara Omotosho & Patience Okon George celebrate their fantastic World Relay Bronze in the 4x400m

At the Commonwealth Games, they lived up to their pre-championships expectations, winning the Silver medal behind Jamaica, with Ada Benjamin replacing Omotosho in the quartet.  The team consolidated their impressive performance this season by sprinting to their first GOLD medal of 2014, and fourth back to back win at the African Championships in 3:28.87s, before helping Team Africa to 3rd place with 3:25.51s at the Continental Cup. The team is ranked 3rd in the World this year and will be medal contenders at the 2015 World Championships and 2016 Olympics!

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2. ESE BRUME:

The long jumper has definitely been the revelation of the year in Nigerian athletics and deservedly takes 2nd position on our list. Going to the Commonwealth Games, not many people would have given her the chance of becoming the GOLD medal winner for the country, especially after a disappointing performance just a week before where she didn’t make it past the qualification round at the World Junior Championships. Brume started her season by dominating her event at the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) Golden League, before upping her game to win the GOLD medal with a leap of 6.68m at the Nigerian Championships. She added another GOLD medal to her outstanding season at the African Championships, then came 5th for Team Africa at the Continental Cup with a leap of 6.34m. IMG_0928 copy

Brume is now set to follow in Blessing Okagbare’s footsteps, and possibly also transition from jumping to sprinting next year, as she exclusively revealed to MAKING OF CHAMPIONS – we wish her the best of luck as she looks to progress from Commonwealth GOLD to World Championship and Olympic Glory over the next 2 years!

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1. BLESSING OKAGBARE:

The Beijing 2008 bronze medalist deservedly takes the top spot as the reigning Nigerian and Commonwealth 100m & 200m Champion, and African 100m Champ as well – she opted out of the African 200m, perhaps to pick her battles in a tough, long season! She started her Diamond League season, with a 2nd place finish in the 100m, in a time of 11.18s in Qatar. At Shanghai leg of the Diamond League, she won a double with Meet Records in the Long jump (6.86m) and 200m. She ran also a PB of 22.23s in the 200m to come 2nd behind surprise winner Tori Bowie in Eugene.

At the Nigerian Championships in Calabar, she became the first athlete in the Country’s Track and Field history to win a sixth consecutive title in the 100m in a CR of 11.06s before going on to make it a sprint double in the 200m in 22.62s.

Tipped as a medalist at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Okagbare lived up to pre-championships expectations.  She won the 100m in a Games Record of 10.85s, erasing 0.06s off the previous record before making it a double in the 200m in 20.25s. She also helped the women’s 4x100m relay team to a silver medal finish in 42.92s. IMG_0477 copy

At the African Championships in Morocco, she regained her 100m title lost in 2012 by winning with another CR of 11.00s flat ahead of her African rival Murielle Ahouré, before anchoring the 4x100m relay team to a fifth back to back title in 43.65s. Exhaustion began to set in for the African champion who capped off her season with a 3rd place finish in the 100m in Zurich, and 6th place in the 200m in Brusells, losing out on the Diamond League Trophy in both events.

Okagbare is now the most prolific athlete of the Diamond League since its inception in 2010, notching up her 38th appearance in the series. She participated in nine Diamond League meetings this season, winning four of them. She’s ranked second in the IAAF World rankings in the 100m this year, and fifth in the 200m.

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At the end of the season, it could be said that Team Nigeria athletics posted a fair performance in the 2014 athletics season – a future generation of athletes in Brume and Oduduru is set to emerge in Nigerian athletics, and Okagbare is set to lead Nigeria’s charge for medals at the 2015 Worlds and the 2016 Olympics!

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Team Nigeria & Zambia’s Mupopo in Team Africa’s 4x400m @ Continental Cup!

13 Sep

Team Nigeria’s trio of Folashade Abugan, Patience Okon George and Ada Benjamin will be aiming to end the season on a high as members of Team Africa’s women’s 4x400m relay team at the IAAF Continental Cup this weekend in Marrakech.

Okon George , Regina George, Benjamin, Abugan won a fourth consecutive continental title for Nigeria during last month’s African Championships in Morocco with a time of 3.28.87s, ahead of Kenya (3:32.26s) and Botswana (3:40.28s).

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However Regina was excluded from the team and will be replaced by silver medallist at the Championships, Kabange Mupopo of Zambia who posted the same time as Abugan (51.21s) in the 400m final but had to settle for second place via a photo finish. Interestingly, Mupopo is also the team captain for Zambia’s senior national football team, the ‘She-polopolo’!

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Getting to the podium this weekend will be the final icing on the cake for the Nigerian athletes, two of whom (Abugan & Okon George) won bronze at the inaugural IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas, silver at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with a time of 3:24.71s, behind Jamaica’s 3:23.82s, and then gold at the African Championships.

The Nigerian team ranks third on the 2014 IAAF Rankings with a Season’s Best (SB) of 3:23.41s behind the USA (3:21.73s) and Jamaica (3:23.26s). Abugan and Mupopo jointly hold the 21st position in the world, having posted 51.21s as their fastest times this season. Abugan clocked the time twice to emerge National and African champion.

Okon George is 25th in the world with 51.29s while Benjamin occupies the 44th spot with a Personal Best (PB) of 51.68s, which she ran in the heats of the 400m in Marrakech.

Team Africa will go against a strong Americas field comprising of world leader Francena McCorory USA (49.48s) and the Jamaican trio of world No. 4 and Diamond League Trophy winner, NovleneWilliams-Mills (50.05s), Commonwealth Champion, Stephenie Ann McPherson (No. 5 with 50.12s) and Christine Day (No. 6 with 50.16s). The USA and Jamaican teams finished ahead of Nigeria at the IAAF Relays, while Jamaica dominated the event in Glasgow, with Nigeria following in second.

The European team is made up of Italian quartermiler, Libania Grenot (No. 10 with 50.55s), Ukranian Olha Zemlyak (No. 20 with 51.07s), Indira Terrero (No. 32 with 51.38s) and Malgorzata Holub (No. 59 with 51.84s). The reserve athletes are Elena Korobkina of Russia and Antoinette Nana Djimou of France.

Asia-Pacific will be represented by the Australian team which ranks 20th in the world with an SB of 3:30.27s. Members of the squad are Anneliese Rubie (No. 93 with 52.35s), Jessica Thornton (No. 112 with 52.50s), Kendra Hubbard, Lyndsay Pekin with Lauren Wells and Alex Hulley in reserve.

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Folashade Abugan, Patience Okon George, Ada Benjamin and Kabange Mupopo (ZAM),  will be representing Team Africa in the women’s 4x400m on Sunday Sept 14th 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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African Champion ABUGAN seeks perfect finish to 2014 season in 400m @ Continental Cup!

9 Sep

The 2014 season has been an outstanding one for Folashade Abugan, and she would be aiming to end the season on a high by adding a medal to her individual collection at the IAAF Continental Cup in Marrakech this weekend.

Her first medal for the season was a bronze with the 4x400m team at the IAAF World Relays; then came individual GOLD in the Nigerian Trials in Calabar where she denied teammate Regina George a hattrick of titles. She won a silver medal in the relays at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and then claimed GOLD in the individual 400m at last month’s African Championships in Marrakech, before anchoring the Nigerian team to a fourth consecutive African 4x400m title. 

A Nigerian domination had already been in the works as Defending Champion and favourite, Amantle Montsho, was ruled out of the competition after failing a dope test in Glasgow, and Abugan took the opportunity with both hands as she dominated from her very first race of the championship, taking victory in her heat in 52.09s. Team mate Patience Okon-George won Heat 2 in 51.55s while Ada Benjamin also impressed in Heat 3 with a lifetime best of 51.55s.

And though Nigerian fans had anticipated a 1-2-3 in the final, Zambia’s Kabange Mupopo put paid to such dreams as she raced Abugan all the way to the finish line, with both athletes posting 51.21s. Abugan took the day via photo finish, while Okon George was third with 51.68s and Benjamin fourth in 52.59s. Interestingly, Mupopo is also the national women’s football team captain for Zambia!

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Speaking after the race, an excited Abugan said, “I am very happy because four years ago I was third but this time around I came first. Being African Champion is no mean feat. The Continental Cup is going to be a tough one because the world’s best athletes would be there, but I know that I will certainly do better there.”

True to her words, she would be meeting world leader, Francena McCorory (SB 49.48s), as well as Commonwealth Games silver medallist & 2014 Diamond Race winner, Novlene Williams-Mills (50.05s), who is 4th fastest in the world this year. The pair is competing for the Americas while the European team features No. 10 in the rankings, Libania Grenot (50.55s) of Italy and Ukraine’s Olha Zemlyak (51.07s) who is No. 20 this year.

Abugan and Mupopo who are joint 21st in the world this year with 51.21s and are ranked higher than the Asain-Pacific duo of Anneliese Rubie (No. 93) and Louise Jones (unranked) that they will also face on Saturday. Even though McCorory has the world leading time this year, she may not be in great form as she finished a distant seventh in the final Diamond League meeting in Brussels last week, meaning that Williams-Mills will likely be the favourite to take the victory for Team Americas. 

Nevertheless, both Abugan and Mupopo will be looking to improve their SBs and go under 51 seconds to get into the mix for medals for Team Africa!

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Folashade Abugan will be representing Team Africa in the women’s 400m on Saturday Sept 13th at 8.10pm!

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm – DON’T MISS IT!

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Abugan, Nigeria’s 400m Champion, to face teammates for African Title!

8 Aug

The absence of Defending African 400m Champion Amantle Montsho, has paved the way for Nigerian Champion, Folashade Abugan, to win her first continental title when the 19th African Senior Championships take off from August 10 to 14 in Marrakech, Morocco.

Botswana’s former world champion, and 2010 Commonwealth champion, was dethroned in Glasgow after she finished in fourth place behind the Jamaican trio of Stephanie McPherson, Novlene Williams-Mills and Christine Day. However she tested positive for a banned stimulant immediately following that race and has been provisionally suspended.

This development is now likely to result in a Nigerian 1-2-3 as Abugan and her  teammates, Patience Okon George and Omolara Omotosho, who are all in Africa’s Top 5 list this season, will now be the favourites for the podium positions in Marrakech. For now, Montsho is top of the continental list with 50.37s, with Abugan (51.21s), Patience George (51.29s), Regina George (51.30s) and Omotosho (51.56s) completing the Top 5 (Regina will not be in Marrakech, following the injury she sustained during last week’s Commonwealth Games).

Folashade Abugan at the World Relays in the Bahamas. She is Nigeria's 400m Champion in 2014, winning at the  Nigerian National Championships in 51.39s!

Folashade Abugan at the World Relays in the Bahamas. She is Nigeria’s 400m Champion in 2014, winning at the Nigerian National Championships in 51.39s!

Incredibly this could be the first time that Nigeria sweeps the medals in the women’s 400m at the African Championships since 1990, when Fatima Yusuf, Charity Opara and Emily Odoemenam took to the podium, and would be the first Nigerian victory in the event since 1998, when 400m African Record Holder Falilat Ogunkoya won an incredible 200/400m double with then Championship Records of 22.22s and 50.07s respectively! Incidentally Abugan claimed Silver in 2008 and Bronze in 2010, both times behind Montsho who won GOLD on each of those occasions.

Abugan has been consistent this season, and was a member of the Bronze winning 4x400m team at the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas in May. She put up an impressive performance to dethrone two-time winner, Regina George, at the National Trials in June and then anchored the 4x400m team to a Commonwealth Silver medal in Glasgow just last week. She was the only one of Nigeria’s ‘Fantastic Four’ to reach the individual 400m Final in Glasgow where she finished 5th, and she will be the athlete to beat in Morocco!

Folashade Abugan, 400m Nigerian Champion, after receiving the baton from Ada Benjamin  for the last leg of the women's 4x400m at Hampden Park in Glasgow at the 2014 C'wealth Games.  Jamaica won the GOLD, with Nigeria getting the Silver and England the Bronze!  (Photo Credit: AP Photo/ Scott Heppell)

Folashade Abugan, 400m Nigerian Champion, after receiving the baton from Ada Benjamin
for the last leg of the women’s 4x400m at Hampden Park in Glasgow at the 2014 C’wealth Games.
Jamaica won the GOLD, with Nigeria getting the Silver and England the Bronze!
(Photo Credit: AP Photo/ Scott Heppell)

That said, Okon George and Omotosho are bound to give Abugan a good fight for the title, noting that the trio also swept the medals at the National Trials in Calabar, and were also members of the Silver winning team in Glasgow and Bronze Medallists in the Bahamas. A Nigeria 1-2-3 is definitely on the cards ahead of the championships in Morocco.

Women’s 400m Schedule: August 10 – Round 1 at 6.10pm, August 11th – Semis at 7.50pm, August 12th – Final at 7.00pm

(NB: This program is liable to change according to the number of participants and the local conditions)

African womens 400m list copy

Mixed fortunes for Nigeria as Abugan makes 400m Commonwealth Games Final

29 Jul

Team Nigeria’s conquest for medals took a dramatic turn on Day 2 of athletics at the Hampden Park in Glasgow as Nigeria’s No.1, Folashade Abugan was the only one of three athletes to qualify from the semi-finals of the women’s 400m at the ongoing Commonwealth Games, through to the final on Tuesday night.

Abugan competed in Heat 2 of the semis, and missed out on automatic qualification as she finished third behind Jamaica’s Christine Day (51.02) and Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas in 2nd with 51.58s. However Abugan’s time of 51.71s qualified her as one of the fastest losers, along with Kineke Alexander of St. Vincent and the Grenadines who posted 52.12s behind Abugan.

Folashade Abugan at the World Relays in the Bahamas. She is Nigeria's 400m Champion in 2014, winning at the  Nigerian National Championships in 51.39s!

Folashade Abugan at the World Relays in the Bahamas. She is Nigeria’s 400m Champion in 2014, winning at the Nigerian National Championships in 51.39s!

Unfortunately, her compatriots, Omolara Omotosho and Regina George had no such luck as they both failed to make it to the final, after finishing 3rd and 6th respectively. Omotosho competed in Heat 1 and came agonizingly close to automatic qualification; she however missed out on a place in the final as she finished 3rd in 52.34s, trailing Jamaica’s Stephanie McPherson (50.69s) and Kelly Massey of England (52.19s) who beat her near the line as she started to tie up and lose her form in the final straight. 

More surprising was the performance of Regina George who finished a distant sixth with 53.48s in Heat 3 which was won by the Commonwealth’s top athlete, Novlene Williams-Mills in 50.73s. The Jamaican was followed by defending champion, Amantle Montsho (50.96s) and England’s Margaret Adeoye who returned a time of 52.48s in 3rd. George, the darling of many Nigerian fans could not replicate the form that saw her inspire Nigeria to a bronze medal finish at the inaugural edition of the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas earlier this year. Rumour has it that the 22-year old was carrying an injury after the heats, and as such couldn’t post a performance deserving of a place in the final. One wonders though why she was picked ahead of Patience Okon George, who finished ahead of her in the National Trials in third place, and really ought to have run the individual 400m, unless she was injured!

Abugan will be engaged in the battle for supremacy ahead of Tuesday’s final when she goes against a star-studded field which includes Williams-Mills, Day and Montsho (1st, 2nd and 3rd fastest in the Commonwealth this year). She comes to the field with the second slowest time and will need to extra inspiration if she is to get to the podium on Tuesday. As we predicted yesterday, Abugan was the surest bet to reach the final, and is so doing confirms her position as Nigeria’s No. 1 this year. She will have to watch out for the Jamaicans who coincidentally dominated the various heats. Can she pull of the same kind of upset that saw her dethrone Regina George as national champion?

 

Nigerian quartet in uphill battle for individual 400m medals, but look good in the 4x400m!

27 Jul

Nigeria’s quartet of Folasade Abugan, Regina George, Omolara Omotosho and Patience Okon George have become a formidable  force in the 4x400m relay, following their  heroics at the maiden IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas in May where the team scooped the country’s only medal (Bronze) of the competition.

That said, their chances of winning global medals in the individual 400m, starting with the Commonwealth Games this week, might yet prove challenging going by current statistics, although the possibility of at least one of them staging an upset cannot be totally ruled out. Abugan (SB 51.21s), who dethroned Regina George as national champion in June, is the highest ranked of the quartet in amongst Commonwealth Athletes this year in 7th, while Okon George (51.29s), Regina George (51.30s) and Omotosho (51.56s) occupy the 10th, 11th and 14th spots respectively in the 2014 Commonwealth ratings.

2014 CWG Womens 400 list copy

The athlete to beat in the women’s 400m will likely be Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills (SB 50.05s), number one in the Commonwealth this year, and dominant on the Diamond League circuit earlier this season, before USA’s McCorory and Richards-Ross took over and are the only athletes in the world to break 50 seconds this season. With USA not competing here, Williams-Mills stiffest should come from none other than reigning African and Commonwealth champion, Amantle Montsho from Botswana who will be here to defend her title. Montsho, a former world champion has the third fastest time (50.37s) amongst Commonwealth Athletes, with Jamaica’s Christine Day (50.16) and Stephenie Ann McPherson (50.40s).

With 3 of the top 4 Commonwealth Athletes this year, the Jamaican’s look an extremely good bet for 4x400m Relay GOLD as they rule the Commonwealth standings with 3.23.26 from the World Relays, with the Nigerian quartet looking good for the Silver after posting an SB of 2.23.41 in the Bahamas as well, Nigeria’s 3rd fastest quartet in history, and the fastest by any Nigerian Quartet since the Falilat Ogunkoya-led team of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

That notswithstanding, they would have to watch out for Team England who could be out to spring a surprise on their ‘home turf’, despite world champion, Christine Ohuruogu’s fitness battles. Ohuruogu, the former Olympic champion, is still the highest ranked Briton this season with 51.66 in 15th while her England teammates Anyika Onuora (51.78s), Emily Diamond (51.95s) and Shana Cox (52.11s) are 18th, 22nd and 24th respectively in the Commonwealth standings – don’t count them out just yet!

STOP PRESS: We have just gathered that the THREE from the Nigerian quartet who will compete in the individual 400m are Regina George, Omotosho and Abugan – their heats are coming up TODAY (Sunday) at 4.55pm, 5.16pm and 5.23pm respectively – the latter two will face McPherson and Montsho head one – don’t miss them! Commiserations to Okon George who is actually Nigeria’s N0. 2 this year but misses out on competing in the individual event (we hope the selectors made the best decision)! Undoubtedly she’ll be back for the Relays later in the week!

MoC PREDICTION: ALL THREE Nigerian girls competing can make the final, and we expect at least TWO of them to do it. Which TWO? Difficult to say, Abugan as the Nigerian Champion seems the surest bet, while Regina George desperately needs to find her last year’s form to reach the final and justify her inclusion in the individual 400m, despite finishing only 4th at the Nigerian Trials. We expect a JAM-BOT-JAM 1-2-3 in the final, but hopefully one of our girls can spring a surprise and snatch a medal!

In the 4x400m Relay later in the week, it will be all about Jamaica vs Nigeria! Jamaica’s are certainly favourites for the GOLD, but considering how close Team Nigeria ran them at the World Relays, the GOLD is certainly not too far for our girls to reach for. If Christine Ohuruogu is anywhere near back to here best form, she should help Team England to the Bronze!

 

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)

 

 

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