BLESSING Okagbare is billed to battle with two of Jamaica’s greatest ever women sprinters in a field bustling with a glittering array of world and Olympic champions at the 2015 Shanghai Diamond League meeting on May 17. The IAAF Diamond League meeting organisers who announced this on Wednesday, April 8, said Okagbare, Commonwealth champion, would compete against Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Olympic gold medallist, Veronica Campbell-Brown, her compatriot and triple world champion, in a 100m clash at the second meeting on this year’s Diamond League calendar.
Campbell-Brown, the Olympic Games 200m champion in 2004 and 2008, won the season-long Diamond Race over 100m last year and would start her 2015 season against Fraser-Pryce, who won three gold medals at the 2013 IAAF World Championships and won the 100m at this meeting two years ago.
Okagbare produced a dazzling double at this meeting 12 months ago when she won the long jump and 200m. The Nigerian athlete will be looking for maximum points again to kick off this summer’s campaign ahead of the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.
Gabon to Host 2017 African Nations Cup
GABON is going to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals. The Confederation of African Football, on Wednesday, April 8, picked the country ahead of Algeria and Ghana to host the tournament.
The 2012 co-hosts won a vote by the Confederation of African Football’s executive committee in Cairo on Wednesday ahead of Algeria and Ghana. Gabon will be hosting the game for a second time Gabon, having previously co-hosted the same tournament with Equatorial Guinea in 2012.
Gabon will use four venues for the 16-team tournament, which will be played between January and February. They will be in Libreville and Franceville, which were used in 2012, plus Port Gentil and Oyem where the stadiums will be ready in 14 months, Gabon Football Federation officials said.
Libya was originally billed to host the African Cup of Nations football tournament but for the civil war going on in the country.
Blatter Calls for Stiffer Punishment against Racism
SEPP Blatter, president of the Federation Internationale de Football Association, FIFA, wants tougher punishment for teams and associations found guilty of racism and discrimination. At the Confederation of African Football congress in Cairo, Egypt on Tuesday, April 7, Blatter said monetary sanctions were increasingly ineffective. “We have to punish not only through fines and stadium closures but we have to use our rules to suspend teams, to take away their points or even to relegate them if racism continues,” he said.
The FIFA boss reminded African countries of extensive financial support to the continent’s football associations from the FIFA’s governing body during his opening address at the congress held in a Cairo hotel on Tuesday. Blatter, who is expected to get massive support from Africa’s 54 countries when he stands for re-election next month, said FIFA had spent about $700 million on various programmes across Africa.
“We should maybe spend more to prepare a better future for the children,” he said, echoing the promises of his three rivals in the FIFA presidential election for more financial assistance for member countries.
The CAF congress was also attended by Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan, Michael van Praag, president of the Dutch Football Association and Luis Figo, former Portuguese international footballer, who are challenging Blatter for the FIFA plum job. But they were not permitted to address the assembly.
Bolt, Gatlin to Clash at World Championship
IT promises to be a clash of the titans when the two athletes meet at this year’s world Champion. Usain Bolt, Jamaican world fastest runner and multiple Olympic champion, is said to be working very hard in a bid to defend his world titles against American Justin Gatlin this season. Gatlin, who dominated last year’s Diamond League, running 9.77 seconds and 19.68 seconds in the 100m and 200m, is going to have a showdown with Bolt very soon.
Glen Mills, coach of the Olympian, said Bolt had stepped up his preparations since running 46.37 seconds over 400m in Kingston, Jamaica in March. “Usain’s made significant strides since the last time you saw him,” he Mills said.
Talking about Gatlin, 33, who won 100m Olympic gold in 2004 and World Championship gold in 2005, Mills said: “We take all competitors with a level of seriousness,” adding: “But the truth of the matter is Usain at his best doesn’t have much to worry about.”
Bolt, 28, ran only three races last year. He is next due to run in a 100m race at an athletics meet in Rio on April 19, and will follow it at the World Relay Championships in Bahamas on May 2 and 3, when he will represent Jamaica.
“I want to run really fast this season so I’m working on it. I’m happy with where I’m at. I’m doing a lot of work leading up to this first run in Brazil [in April] – that’s the focus and that’s what we’re working towards,” he said.