African 100m champion, Blessing Okagbare and Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles champion, Ajoke Odumosu are in Shanghai, China for the second leg of the Samsung Diamond League happening on Sunday.
Okagbare was in Doha for the first of the series and she put up a subdued appearance running 23.19 seconds in the 200m race won by LaShuntea Moore with 22.83. It was Okagbare’s first outing outdoors this season.
And barring any circumstances she would be looking to post a good performance as she attempts to re-enact the form that saw her doing an 11.03 personal best in 2010.
In Shanghai she would be facing top women like Veronica Campbell-Brown and Carmelita Jeter whose 10.86 season best is leading the world. There is also Sherone Simpson and Gloria Asumnu to complete the strong field. Perhaps Okagbare will have African rival Ruddy Zang Milama for company in Shanghai as the two athletes are primed for a showdown at the Maputo All Africa Games.
Ajoke is the other Nigerian in the Diamond League. She will be competing with the likes of Lashinda Demus and Meliane Walker, girls who are pushing 52 seconds in the 400m hurdles. Ajoke’s season’s best is 56.66 and she would at least carve up better times to boost her preparations for the All Africa Games and the World Championships. She is one Nigerian athlete officials are banking on to win gold at the All Africa Games.
There are no Nigerian male sprinters in the meet. Who would want to admit athletes wallowing in the sea of 10.31 seconds? The world of the 100m and 200m now belong to runners who can go under 10.00 seconds.
In Shanghai former world record holder Asafa Powell is the king of the pack. But there are runners like Michael Rogers with a season’s best of 9.96, Jaysuma Siady Ndure of Norway with a season’s best of 10.06 and Churandy Martina of Netherlands with a season’s best of 10. 18, these guys will put Powell to test.
Another race that will be of interest is the men’s 110m hurdles where China’s Liu Xiang is making a comeback from a long injury lay off. However, with world leader David Oliver’s presence it remains to be seen what the former Olympic Champion at Athens 2004 will do.