By Dare Esan:
Former African sprints queen Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor has sneaked into Saturday’s IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon, USA following the final confirmation of athletes invited for the third in the 14-leg, money-spinning IAAF Diamond League series.
The Nigerian who has been competing at the meeting since 2010 has been confirmed to take part in the long jump event by the organisers and will hope to jump over a number of obstacles.
Okagbare who has competed sparingly in the horizontal jump since she won a silver medal at the IAAF Worlds in Moscow, Russia in 2013 will seek to jump in front of the queque as the African leader in the event so far this season, albeit this will be her first long jump event in 2017.
Her compatriot Ese Brume who finished as the best long jumper in Africa last year courtesy of the 6.83m she jumped in Akure last June also holds the best mark (6.64m) by an African so far this season.
Okagbare will not only be itching to fly farther in the pit at the Hayward Field in Eugene, she will also seek to better her fourth-placed performance at the same event last year.
She jumped 6.73m exactly this same date last year behind the trio of Britney Reese of USA, Spanovic Ivana of Serbia and Ugen Loren of Germany.
Two of her conquerors last year, Reese, the multiple world champion who holds the 2017 world lead at 6.98m, and Ugen are in the field again for Saturday’s showdown.
This will be the reigning Nigerian 100m queen and record holder’s second Diamond League appearance in 2017.
She competed in the 200m event in the opening leg of the meeting in Doha early this month,running 23.15 seconds o place sixth in an event reigning world and Olympic champion flew home first in 22.19 seconds.