Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor will look to consolidate for her early lead in the Diamond Race when she returns to Eugene, Oregon, USA on Saturday.
The 41st edition of the Prefontaine Classic, one of a couple of multi-day event in the IAAF Diamond League calendar, holds at the Hayward Field between 29 and 30 May, with all 16 fields already featured in both Doha and Shanghai earlier in the month on showcase, whitewashed with greater prospects.
The Men’s Shot Put and Discuss, as well as the Women’s Long Jump are the only Diamond League events scheduled for the opening Friday night with International events on the card, while the rest are scheduled for the weekend.
Okagbare-Igho has opted for a routine start to her 2015 season and has not entered for the Long Jump and 200m, yet seeks to make ‘fast an attitude’ in the 100m against a much-improved high-ranking lineup.
Just like in Shanghai two weeks ago, the multi-event specialist will find herself in a rather friendly Oregon clime where she has set Personal Best times in all her three previous appearances, since her debut in July 2010.
Even those encouraging feats had failed to stand the test of time judging by her standard; having forged on to better her wind-aided 10.75secs (+2.2m/s) time in the most recent Pre Classic with a 10.79 African record mark at the London Anniversary Games in 2013, which saw her pull down Gloria Alozie’s 14-year record about two months after finishing second behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in Oregon.
As well as the 26-year-old, the Jamaican reigning world and Olympic champion and Ivoirian Murielle Ahoure returns from the lineup of 2013 but you can hardly deny the Pre Classic of fast women with three IAAF Diamond Tophies winners in contention and a combined total of seven across all events.
Okagbare-Igho is the early days’ Diamond Race queen after earning maximum points with her Season’s Best 10.98secs in Shanghai and has been tipped to end her long wait for a Diamond Trophy this year. But she faces stern opposition from 24-year-old American Torie Bowie- world’s fastest woman in 2014- and Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye- whose 10.85secs Personal Best mark cannot be overlooked. Bowie and Ahye came second and third respectively in the Chinese city putting just nine hundredth-seconds between each other.
Fraser-Pryce, though failed to make the crowd go berserk in her first short sprint of 2015 at the Shanghai stadium, wind-assisted 10.71secs at the 2013 meet remains the fastest time in the world under any conditions since she clocked her Jamaican record 10.70secs in 2012- and who could beat that?
Fast rising pace-setter and fellow Jamaican, Elaine Thompson, is the new kid on the block who has proved her ability to make stars kiss the dust. No woman has ran faster than the UTech student, who clocks 23 years of age next month, in 2015. She set her Personal Best of 10.92secs in April before stunning Okagbare-Igho and Allyson Felix (USA) with another fast (10.97secs) time at the Jamaica International Invitational the following month.
Ahoure won silver medals in both 100m and 200m at the Moscow World Championships and will vie to build early points in Eugene.
Guess who is back, Carmelita Jetter! America’s world’s second fastest woman ever with a personal mark of 10.64secs. The 2009 and 2011 Pre Classic winner is back to re-enact her rivalry with Fraser-Pryce, whom she lost to at the London Games in 2012. At 35, age might not be on her side but competing against an athlete ranked No. 1 for three successive years (2009-2011) is a rare feat that should make fresh bloods’ heart beat faster.
Last but not least, Tianna Bartoletta, has a Worlds (Long Jump 2005) and Olympic (4x 100m 2012) gold medals to her credit. The reigning Diamond medalist in the Long Jump already leads the chase in the aforementioned event with a world-leading 22-11¼ (6.99m) distance. Multiple tasking could come as a distraction for the 29-year-old who is scheduled to compete in the Long Jump on Friday night and then the 100m the following day.
Fraser-Pryce (2012 & 2013 in the 100, 2013 in the 200), Jeter (2010 & 2011 in the 100, 2011 in the 200), and Bartoletta (2014 in the long jump) are the only Diamond Trophy winners that have entered for the 100m at this year’s Prefontaine Classic.