–Diamond Race Prize, Trophy
Reigning African and Commonwealth 100m Champion, Blessing Okagbare is in contention for the USD$40,000 bonus and the Diamond Race trophy on offer this Friday at the Memorial Van Damme Diamond League meeting in Brussels,Belgium,the final meeting of the 14-leg IAAF Diamond League series.
The six time Nigeria 100m queen is one of only two athletes in the 200m event in contention for the prizes and she only needs a win to be crowned champions of an IAAF one day meeting event.
Okagbare is currently placed second with 11 points behind USA’s Allyson Felix who leapfrogged the absent Nigerian a forthnight ago in Stockholm,Switzerland to move to the top of the pack with 13 points.
The Nigerian can however take first spot and the prizes if she either wins on Friday or comes second or third ahead of the three-time Olympic champion.
Felix can also be crowned champions if she beats Okagbare.
Victory for Okagbare will make her the second Nigerian after quartermiler Falilat Ogunkoya to be declared champions of an event in the final of the IAAF one day series meetings.
Ogunkoya won the 400m event at the then Golden League final in Moscow,Russia in 1998 to cap an impressive year that also saw her emerge the IAAF World Cup 400m winner (49.52) and silver in the 200m (22.25 seconds behind Marion Jones) as well as a 200m (22.22)/400m double win at the African Championships in Athletics in Dakar,Senegal.She was also third in the overall women’s ranking,a feat well beyond Okagbare this season.
Friday’s event will not be only about Okagbare and her chase for a piece of history as there is another Nigerian albeit in the strange colours of Bahrain,Kemi Adekoya who will be competing for pride only in the 400m hurdles as Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer has already ran away with the cash prize and Diamond trophy on offer.
Adekoya,until two years ago was the perfect replacement for ageing Ajoke Odumosu,the greatest 400m barrier runner Nigeria has ever produced especially after she ran 55.30 seconds on June 14 at the CAA Grand Prix/Warri Relays in Warri behind Odumosu (55.10) but Athletic Fedration of Nigeria’s lack of focus and disregard for home grown talents combined to force the promising athlete to seek greener pastures in the Middle East.