By Dare Esan:
Reigning Nigeria 100m (10.79 seconds) and 200m (22.04 seconds) record holder Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor is seeking her first win at the 15,000-capacity Hamad Bin Suhaim Stadium on Thursday when the IAAF Diamond League train is flagged off in Doha, Qatar Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
The Nigerian is making her sixth trip to the Diamond League season-opening race and she will hope she runs faster than her competitors led by reigning Olympics double sprints champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica and Cote d’Ivoire duo of Marie Jose Ta Lou, double sprints silver medallist at the last IAAF World Championships in London, and Murielle Ahoure who dethroned her as African 100m record holder (10.78 seconds).
Also listed for the 100m race in Doha are flying Dutch woman Dafne Schippers, 200m world champion in 2015 and 2017 and South Africa’s Carina Horn, the fastest woman in the field this year at 11.03 seconds who missed the last Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia because of injury.
This will be the third time Okagbare-Ighoteguonor will be competing in the 100m event at the Doha Diamond League. She first competed in the event in 2012 and placed fourth (11.01 seconds) in the race won by USA’s Allyson Felix (10.92 seconds).
Okagbare-Ighoteguonor returned in 2014 and improved to second (11.18 seconds) behind Jamaica’s Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce (11.13 seconds).
The Nigerian will hope for the first position ( eight points) and the accompanying $10,000 prize money this time around as she hopes to build on her impressive 22.04 seconds she ran last month in the 200m in Abilene,Texas, USA.
Okagbare-Ighoteguonor’s first trip to Doha was in 2011 when she ran 23.19 seconds to place fourth. In 2013 she competed in the long jump and leapt a wind-aided 7.14m to place second behind USA’s Britney Reese who jumped a meeting record and world lead of 7.25m.
The former Commonwealth Games double sprints queen was absent in 2015 and 2016 but returned to race in the 200m in 2017 and placed sixth in 23.15 seconds. Thompson won the race in 22.19 seconds.