By Ben Efe
With only six days left for the World Athletics Championships in Moscow, Russia athletics fans are stoking up a rivalry between fast rising Nigerian star, Blessing Okagbare and Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
Okagbare, at the London Anniversary Games gave world athletics fans something to chew on after the dope damages done the sport when top sprinters, Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell failed dope tests. Okagbare set an African record running 10.79 seconds, an all time best for her. Fraser-Pryce was forth in that race even though she ran 10.77 in the semi-final of the same event. However, for most athletics fans who responded to a post on IAAF World Athletics Club page on social media, Fraser-Pryce is saving her ‘best for the last’.
Fraser-Pryce, twice Olympics champion from Beijing 2008 to London 2012, will be aiming to win her second World Championships title after taking it for the first time in Berlin 2009 with 10.88 seconds. But the athlete, nicknamed the ‘Pocket Rocket’ for her explosive starts, will face a healthy rivalry from Okagbare, Kelly Ann Baptise, English Gardner and Barbara Pierre who are in the world top three list. There is also Camiliter Jeter who is defending the title from Daegu 2011.
Fraser-Pryce had a bad race at the London Anniversary Games, perhaps, that is what Nigerians will be wishing happens during the final in Moscow.
Certainly Okagbare has the edge mentally speaking. Fraser-Pryce who trains with dope tinted Powell had to walk out of a media briefing when the dope issue was raised. In 2010 she served a six-month ban after she tested positive to stimulants, no doubt all these will be playing in her mind in Russia. But will Okagbare rise to the occasion? Comments on social media:
“If the choice is only between these two and Shelly runs the way she did last week it will go to Blessing. I mean, who blows their jets in a semi!? Not smart racing especially from a professional sprinter.”
“Last diamond meet, Fraser- Pryce runs 10.77 then in final, finishes 4th. She had the brakes on and walked out at the start. She will be a metre in front to 60m then Blessing will come home strong, it will be good race, but Fraser-Pryce wins in photo finish….
“ I really can’t choose, Shelly-Ann will have to make another world leading time to win, because Okagbare will be right by her side
“Go Blessing, represent Africa”
Zang Milama Ruddy