Nigeria’s sprint queen, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor is returning to the Shanghai IAAF Diamond League Meet on Saturday, four years after she last competed at the Shanghai Stadium.
The Nigerian’s last visit in 2015 was a hugely successful one as she won the 100m in 10.98 seconds ahead of USA’s Tori Bowie (11.07) and Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye (11.13).
On Saturday, she will hope to put up a better performance than the 23.14 seconds she ran over the 200m in Doha last week as she battles 2016 double Olympic sprint champions, Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, two-time USA champion at 200m (2015, 2018) and 2015 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships over the 100m, Jenna Prandini and Michelle-Lee, the 2018 Commonwealth Games 100m champion for the $10,000 top prize money and the eight points on offer.
Okagbare’s record at the Shanghai Diamond League, the second stop on the International Association of Athletics Federations’ global circuit of premier one-day meetings has been impressive in all her five visits so far.
She made her debut in the Chinese city in 2011, finishing third (11.23) in the 100m race won by Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown (10.92 seconds). Another Nigerian, Gloria Asumnu was seventh (11.39) in the race.
Okagbare was at the Shanghai Stadium a year later but could not run faster than a third position (22.71) in the half lap behind Veronica Campbell-Brown (22.50) and Carmelita Jeter, the second faster woman ever (10.64) over the 100m who came second in 22.62 seconds.
The Nigerian however moved a step up to second in the long jump with her 6.74m leap behind USA’s Deloach Janny (6.73m).
In 2013, Okagbare ran 11.00 seconds to place second in the 100m behind Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce who ran 10.93 seconds to win but the Nigerian stormed back in 2014 to win the 200m in 22.36 seconds and the long jump with her 6.86m leap.