Poor finishing ensured Blessing Okagbare failed to live up to pre-event rating at the weekend when she was beaten to the second position by Dutch star Dafne Schippers in the women’s 100m at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League meeting in London.
Okagbare, it will be recalled, had two years ago at the same venue broke the 10.84 seconds Nigeria and African record held since 1992 by compatriot, Chioma Ajunwa, with a stunning 10.79 seconds run thereby becoming the first African woman to run inside 10.80 seconds.
With the absence of world’s fastest woman Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell, both of Jamaica, among others, Ivorian Muriel Ahoure was expected to be the only stumbling block to Okagbare’s victory, but Schippers had her own plan as the Dutch clocked a time of 10.92 to finish ahead of Okagbare in second and Ahouré in third.
The world heptathlon bronze medallist, who broke her own national record to win in London, has already made the decision to target the sprints at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing next month and will feel justified in doing so. “It was a difficult decision but I I am a sprinter now and it feels good,” Schippers, winner of the 100m and 200m at last year’s European Championships, said. “I am more relaxed every race and I think it’s better for me to do only one thing.”
Commonwealth champion, Okagbare, is among the four fastest women in the world over 100m that have been confirmed to race in the IAAF Diamond League final bulled to hold in September in Zurich, Switzerland. The others are World and Olympic champion Fraser-Pryce, US champion English Gardner and double world silver medallist Ahoure.