By Dare Esan:
Reigning double Commonwealth Games sprint champion Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor raced home first in the 100m (11.14 seconds) event Tuesday evening at the IAAF World Challenge in Zagreb, Croatia to set herself in confident mood ahead of Friday’s IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels, Belgium where she has been re-confirmed as one of the eight athletes to battle for the $50,000 top prize on offer.
The Nigerian who failed to make it the 100m final at the 16th IAAF World Championships in London early this month won the race in Zagreb ahead of Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith (11.23 seconds) and Trinidad and Tobago’s Ahye Michelle-Lee (11.26 seconds).
Okagbare will however need to run faster than the 11.14 seconds she posted in Zagreb and the 10.99 seconds personal season’s best she ran at the London leg of the IAAF Diamond League last month to get a chance of not only pocketting the top prize but also emerge the blue ribband winner for the season.
The former African record holder in the event (10.79 seconds) however faces very tough hurdles in the duo of reigning double Olympic champion,Elaine Thompson of Jamaica and Ivorian wonder girl,Marie-Josée Ta Lou who picked silver medals in the 100m and 200m at the IAAF Worlds in London.
She will also have to out-run two other Jamaicans,Williams Christiania and Levy Jura as well as Nigeria-born American, Morolake Akinosun and Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago to get the chance of going home with some good cash at the end of the race.
Outside the $50,000 top prize on offer,each of the eight athletes at the starting block will also go home with cash prizes ranging from $2,000 for the eighth placed runner to $20,000 for the second-placed athlete and $10,000 for the third position.