Nigeria’s top female sprinters Tobi Amusan and Blessing Okagbare experienced contrasting fortunes at the IAAF Diamond League in Birmingham on Sunday.
Apparently, in a strong field of some of the world’s finest female athletes, expectations were high for both Amusan and Okagbare to deliver.
However, it was Tobi Amusan who coped best with the pressure to finish third in the women’s 100m hurdles final.
The 22 year old African and Commonwealth champion who started in Lane 4 finished in third with a time of 12.71; in a field that had five Americans and two Jamaicans.
Danielle Williams of Jamaica won the race with a time of 12.46, condemning Kendra Harrison of USA to second place with a time of 12.66. Williams’ time is a new meet record, equaling the mark Kendra Harrison ran in 2016.
In sharp contrast, Nigeria’s queen of the track, Blessing Okagbare faded off the track in the women’s 200m final. The second fastest woman in the world this year started the race in Lane 8, and struggled to make an impact from the outside lane.
Similarly, in a very strong field which included the likes of Bahamas Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo, America’s Dina Asher-Smith, Jamaica’s Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers, Ivory Coast’s Jose Marie Ta Lou and America’s Dezerea Bryant and Chadwick; Okagbare struggled to pulled through.
Okagbare finished in fifth place with a time of 22.83, while Shaunae Miller-Uibo continued her unbeaten run in 2019 finishing first with a time of 22.24; Dina Asher-Smith came in second place with a time of 22.36, and Fraser-Pryce completed the podium with a time of 22.50. It was a poor outing for Ta Lou who finished in eighth place with a time of 24.18.
Next stop in the IAAF Diamond League will be Paris, before the World Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar, sometime in September.
Despite not finishing in the top three, Okagbare who has shown incredible blistering pace in 2019, alongside Amusan will be expected to represent Nigeria at the 12th All Africa Games in Rabat, Morocco.