After dumping Team Nigeria at the on-going Africa Games in Morocco, former Commonwealth Games double sprint champion, Blessing Okagbare could not achieve her aim in the 200m final at the Weltklasse IAAF Diamond League in Zurich, Switzerland, yesterday.
Okagbare, who was disqualified in the 100 metres semifinal at the African Games for beating the starter’s gun, finished in a distant sixth position at the IAAF Diamond League. The race was won by Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo in a time of 21.74 seconds.
The decision by Okagbare to withdraw from the African Games is said to have sparked anger among top officials of the sports ministry in Rabat, especially after she failed to make the 100 metres final. She was not in Nigeria’s 4×100 metres relay team, which won the African Games’ title on Wednesday.
At Beijing 2015 IAAF World Championship, Okagbare withdrew from Nigeria’s camp, claiming she was nursing an injury, only to appear in a Diamond League event a few days later.
The Sapele-born athlete had left for Zurich, Switzerland, on Wednesday with the aim of battling for the $50,000 top prize money on offer.
Even before the race yesterday evening, many athletics followers had written off Okagbare’s chances of finishing top, considering the quality of athletes in the event, including Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, The Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers, reigning 2016 double Olympics sprint champion, Elaine Thompson of Jamaica and Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo.
Prior to yesterday’s event in Zurich, Okagbare was the second-fastest athlete (22.05 seconds) in the 200m this year behind Thompson, who ran 22.00 seconds last June in Kingston, Jamaica.