Blessing Okagbare is seeking history as the first Nigerian and African woman to break 22 seconds when she lines up for the 200m event on Friday at the Stade Louis 11 stadium in Monaco for the ninth leg of the money-spinning IAAF Diamond League meeting.
She has competed in the half-lap race thrice this season, starting with an uninspiring 23.14 seconds run at the opening leg of the Diamond League meetings in Doha last May and improved to 22.58 seconds 18 days later at the 2019 Nanjing World Challenge in Nanjing, China.
Okagbare blew away the field late last month at Stanford in California where she ran 22.05 seconds to win the Pre-Fontaine Classics ahead of 2016 double Olympic sprints champion, Elaine Thompson of Jamaica and British wonder, Dina Asher-Smith.
The time is Okagbare’s second fastest after the 22.04 seconds she ran in Abilene, Texas, USA last year March to set a new African record in the event.
On Friday, Okagbare will seek to become the first African woman and
29th in the world to break the barrier.
She will be buoyed by her incredible run in Stanford on June 30 and will be pushed by the quality field assembled for the race in Monaco.
Only three athletes have broken 22 seconds amongst the eight that will compete against the Nigerian on Friday and they are led by Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers (21.63). Others are Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo (21.88) and Thompson (21.66).
Okagbare is joint third with 14 points in the 200m Diamond League standing and victory on Friday will ensure she qualifies for the final of the event on August 29 at the Weltklasse Diamond League meeting in Zurich.