By Dare Esan:
Sprinter Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor will lose further ground in the IAAF Diamond Race when the IAAF Diamond League train makes its fourth stop on Thursday at the Golden Gala meeting in Rome.
The IAAF Diamond League encompasses 32 individual event disciplines, with a points scoring ‘Diamond Race’ which runs throughout the 14-meeting series. Winners of each Diamond Race will get a Diamond Trophy, a cash prize and a wild card for the IAAF World Championships.
More importantly, the winners will have shown season-long consistency to earn the unchallenged honour of being the World Number One.
With the confirmed absence of the Nigerian in today’s race in Rome, and she is also not in the provisional list for Sunday’s fifth leg of the meeting in Birmingham, England, the reigning African 100m recold holder (10.79s) will be playing serious catch-up by the time she reappears in the money-spinning meeting.
Okagbare is sitting third with six points in the 100m event following her second place finish in Rabat behind the duo of USA’s Tori Bowie and Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson who are joint-first with 10 points following their wins in Doha for Bowie and Rabat for Thompson.
Each of the disciplines is staged seven times with the top six athletes being awarded the same amount of points at each meeting with the exception of the final where the points are doubled.
The Golden Gala will stage the second of the seven 100m races in the Diamond Race category while Sunday’s meeting in Birmingham will stage the third. This means the Nigerian will not garner any point in the two races while Thompson who will be competing today in Rome could move clear as number one with 20 points if she wins.
Interestingly however both Thompson and Bowie will not be competing in Birmingham.
The athlete with the highest number of points in each discipline at the end of the IAAF Diamond League season wins “The Diamond Race” accompanied by a $40,000 cash prize in addition to the $10,000 on offer as event winners at each of the 14 Diamond League meetings.
Meanwhile triple jumper Tosin Oke is the second Nigerian in the Diamond Race.
Oke who will also not be in Rome tonight because his event is not among those to be contested for is however seventh in the triple jump standing with two points following his fifth place (16.73m SB) finish in Doha. Reigning world champion Christian Taylor leads the ranking with 20 points following his two wins in Doha and Eugene, USA.