Commonwealth Games double sprint champion Blessing Okagbare is in contention to end 2014 with a flourish at the season finale of the IAAF Diamond League in Brussels.
Okagbare, who turns 26 years of age next Tuesday, is a win away from claiming a Diamond Race trophy in the women’s 200m, with just two points presently separating the Nigerian (11 points) from leader Allyson Felix (13 points) of the United States of America (USA) in the closest contest of the day.
A win for the World Championships bronze medalist in the second of two finals of the 2014 series guarantees her of a USD$40,000 (about N6.5m) bonus.
Half of the Diamond race champions out of the 16 disciplines are already decided, in persons of sprint hurdler Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, 400m runner Novlene Williams-Mills, steeplechaser Jairus Birech, 800m runner Eunice Sum, pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie, 400m hurdler Kaliese Spencer, triple jumper Caterine Ibarguen and shot putter Valerie Adams.
Victory for the athletes- Okagbare and Felix inclusive- competing in the eight other disciplines in Brussels is of utmost importance.
A first place finish for the Delta State-born athlete tonight (7:00pm Nigerian time) earns her four more point, taking her tally to 15.
The permutation could get bit more interesting should Okagbare cross the line first and four-time Olympic champion, Felix, finish runner-up, which means the duo all end the series tied on points.
In case the 200m contest ends in stalemate, the Diamond Race goes to the athlete with most victories. If athletes are still tied, then the title will go to whichever athlete performed better at their event’s Diamond Race final.
The American competed in 2 more Diamond League events than Okagbare and claimed victory in both. With the exception of Shanghai, where Felix opted out of the 200m race, Okagbare still managed a better head-to-head results against the 29-year-old; notably in Eugene and Paris.
Therefore, the points the Nigerian sprinter lost from not competing at the Bislet Games (in June) while on national trials in Calabar for the Glasgow Games, as well as missing out on the 9th leg in Stockholms was Felix’s gain.
Okagbare goes into Friday evening’s Grand Finale with a season’s best of 22.23secs (+1.5m/s wind assist) from her second-place finish at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, within two weeks of breaking the meeting record in Shanghai, in May- an event in which Felix came third.
Felix’s season’s best came later in July; a 22.34secs (+0.4m/s wind assist) runner-up finish behind the African sprint queen in Areva, Paris. Okagbare finished two seconds ahead of the American in that one.