Saturday, July 5, 2014 10:48 pm
Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, who won 200m bronze and long jump silver at the Moscow world championships last year, stormed home in the women’s 200m at the Paris Diamond League Saturday after trailing American Allyson Felix off the bend.
A savage dip at the line saw the 25-year-old Nigerian finish in 22.32sec, with three-time world champion and current Olympic gold medallist Felix in second at just two-hundredths of a second.
However, Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the reigning double Olympic 100m champion, laboured in fifth (22.63) in a boost for Okagbare’s sprint intentions come Glasgow.
“I think I now want to be seen more in sprints, these are the events followed most by the public,” insisted Okagbare, who stumbled out of the blocks in the 100m in Lausanne on Thursday and failed to finish.
“I’m not sure about my plan for the Commonwealths, the sprints for sure and also the relay, but it’s not clear with the jumping.”
Pole vault king Renaud Lavillenie headlined a night to remember for French athletes but there were mixed results for a host of potential Commonwealth Games medal contenders.
While Lavillenie’s facile victory, winning his sixth straight competition at the Stade de France with his first clearance at 5.70m — “doing what I had to do in swirling wind” — could well have been predicted, his French teammates also largely thrived in front of 42,154 home spectators north of Paris.
Unheralded Eloyse Lesueur won the long jump in a personal best of 6.92m, ahead of Brittney Reese, the reigning Olympic champ and defending three-time world gold medallist from the United States.
Lesueur’s success followed that of Benjamin Compaore who leaped 17.12m in the triple jump for a shock victory over Olympic gold and silver medallists Christian Taylor and Will Claye.
There was also a personal best of 13.05sec for Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, who had to settle for second in the 110m hurdles behind Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment, who set a national record of 12.94sec to win in imperious style.
“I must admit I was not thinking to run that fast today!” acknowledged the 24-year-old Jamaican after clocking the fastest time run over the high hurdles since September 2012.
“Now after the race I actually have the feeling I can run even faster as I felt I made some mistakes. I can improve on that.”
Lemaitre’s 100m proved to be a damp squib, albeit he timed a season’s best of 10.28sec in finishing eighth and last.
In the absence of world and Olympic champion Usain Bolt and Jamaican teammate Asafa Powell, American Mike Rodgers won in 10 seconds flat after recently-crowned Jamaican champion Nickel Ashmeade was disqualified for a false start which he vehemently protested.
While Parchment’s hurdles performance was arguably the stand-out of the night, there was mixed bag of results for other high-profile athletes in the warm-up for the July 23-August 3 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Australian Olympic champion Sally Pearson’s return to form after injury took another small step when she finished sixth (12.89) in the 100m hurdles, won by newly-crowned US champion Dawn Harper-Nelson in 12.44sec.
Kenya’s defending two-time world 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop stepped down to win a high-quality 800m in a season’s fastest time of 1min 43.34sec, outsprinting Botswana’s Nijel Amos down the home strait.
“I know I can go even faster in this race,” Kiprop warned, saying his goal was to go for a quick 1500m in Monaco Diamond League meet on July 19.
At the same venue last season, Kiprop clocked an astonishing 3:27.72 to win the 1500m, the fourth fastest time ever run over the distance.
Kiprop’s teammate Edwin Soi wrapped up the men’s 5000m, the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist turning on the afterburners to time 12:59.82 after Mo Farah’s training partner Galen Rupp had led through the bell, the American eventually finishing fourth at 1.17sec.
Late in the evening, Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan set a nation record of 3:57.00 in winning an electric 1500m from long-time leader Jennifer Simpson.
And Croatia’s two-time world champion Blanka Vlasic recorded a win in the high jump (2.00m), besting Russian Mariya Kuchina on countback.