Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare will be seeking another piece of history as the first Nigerian nay African woman to break 22 seconds when she lines up for the 200m event today at the Stade Louis 11 Stadium in Monaco for the ninth leg of the money-spinning IAAF Diamond League meeting,Tidesports source reports.
The Nigerian 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.
Today, the elegant and beautifully built Okagbare will seek to become the first African woman and 29th in the world to break the barrier.
She will be bouyed 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.
The Herculis EBS has been a favourable hunting ground for the 2013 IAAF World Championships double medallist after winning in 2012 and 2013.
She ran 10.96 seconds, then a personal best to win the 100m event in 2012 and made a big leap at the long jump pit the following year, jumping a wind aided 7.04m (a trail wind of +2.1mps) to win the event. Interestingly, Okagbare set her personal best of 7.00m in the event with her third round leap, just a few minutes after her wind-aided effort was rendered illegal.
She was disappointing last year at the meeting after running 11.32 seconds in the 100m to come last.It was her worst performance in Monaco and she will look to make up for it today with a historic run.
‘I Can Discover Ballon d’Or Winners In Nigeria’
Ex-Nigeria international Usman Abdallah has declared that he can help the country groom future Ballon d’Or winners if he is handed the U20 job.
Abdallah, who led Enyimba to win the 2019 Nigeria Professional Football League and a Confederation Cup semi-final finish, is favourite to replace Paul Aigbogun for the Flying Eagles’ head coach role.
His outstanding CV features a Uefa A license, a degree in football coaching and team management (France) and a Strength and Conditioning level 1 coaching certificate in Australia.
According to reports, the Nigeria Football Federation will announce the Franco-Nigerian in the coming days, a claim the tactician is unsure of when quizzed by newsmen.
“Just like every other person, I applied for the job but I’m yet to get confirmation if I was picked or not.
“Nigeria is my country and it will be nice if I eventually get this role because it will be a big chance to serve. Also, I have what it takes to discover future Ballon d’Or winners for the country.
“Without sounding immodest, I strongly believe that I will excel in this position not only because of my wealth of experience but because of my closeness to grassroots football.
“As I have always said, this level deserves a lot of serious work because players picked at this level form a pivot of future Super Eagles,”he told newsmen.
After a failed expedition at the 2019 Fifa U20 World Cup in Poland, Nigeria will be hoping to qualify for Indonesia 2021 through the Africa U20 Cup of Nations scheduled for Mauritania.
Champions, Europa Leagues Finals Likely For August
The Champions League and Europa League look increasingly likely to be played exclusively in August after more talks about the remainder of the 2019-20 season on Wednesday.
Uefa told the 55 associations on Tuesday there was still the possibility of the competitions being played throughout June, July and August.
But Tidesports source understands that the latest discussions revolved almost exclusively around a plan to complete the domestic leagues by 31 July, with European competition following after that.
Nothing definitive has been agreed but Uefa is keen to leave all options on the table for as long as possible given the general uncertainty across Europe and in the knowledge there is no guarantee the season will be finished.
However, there is a view that travel restrictions are more likely to have eased in August, which would be necessary for a cross-border competition.
The scenario envisaged would be for the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the respective European competitions to be played as two-legged ties between 11 and 22 August, although these could yet become one-off games.
In the plans now being discussed, there would be some flexibility for domestic fixtures to be played in August, should a July conclusion prove impossible.
The Premier League has nine rounds of fixtures remaining but in Spain and Italy, two countries that have been badly affected, there are still 11 and 12 rounds left respectively – although both have fewer cup games to fit into their schedules.
Uefa hopes the situation will become clearer in the next fortnight but completing the season in this way would cause the least disruption to its qualification competition for the 2020-21 season, which was supposed to start at the end of June but has been delayed indefinitely.
S’Eagles’ll Miss Mikel, Ighalo -Etebo
John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo would remain a big miss for Nigeria, concedes Oghenekaro Etebo, with the Super Eagles still coming to terms with their retirement.
After the Super Eagles clinched third-place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, the duo drew the curtains on their international careers.
Mikel, 32, was the first to bow out before Egypt 2019 top scorer Ighalo followed the path of the former Chelsea star.
Coach Gernot Rohr is prepared to put faith in the likes of Joe Aribo, Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen as replacements for the duo.
The Getafe man said it was clear that the three-time African kings would miss Mikel and Ighalo for their leadership attributes, but believes Osimhen can fill the vacuum left by the Manchester United striker.
“They are leaders who we are going to be missed in the dressing room,” he stated.
“Mikel was a leader; I recall how he helped us during the Olympics when we had issues during our preparations for the Games. Not because I played with him but for the impact he had on me as a player.
“They helped the team make vital decisions during tough times and I guess it was just time for them to move on.
“Ighalo on his part is a goal poacher that we also miss but thank God that we have another goal poacher in [Victor] Osimhen, but we have to be patient with him to settle in well into that role.”
After the coronavirus pandemic, Rohr is expected to begin life without the retired players as Nigeria would be hoping to qualify for the 2021 Afcon billed for Cameroon.
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