Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, Amusan set to represent Nigeria in Diamond League finals

Nigerian sprint-hurdler Oluwatobiloba Amusan has had a breakthrough season during which she has won the 100m hurdles titles at both the Commonwealth Games and African Athletics Championships PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

With the IAAF Diamond League 'regular' season having finished, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor and Oluwatobiloba Amusan are the only Nigerians to have qualified for the finals set for month-end in Zurich and Brussels.

Neither were in action over the past weekend in Birmingham, as their events weren't on the schedule at the 12th and qualification meeting, so have had the luxury of starting their preparations for the finals early.

Okagbare-Ighoteguonor will be on the start line for the 100m on 30 August at the Weltklasse in Zurich, while Amusan will be in action the following evening in the 100m hurdles at the AG Memorial Van Damme in Brussels -- these two meetings will serve as the 'winner takes all' finals.

Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, who has dropped long jump from her schedule following the emergence of Ese Brume - who narrowly missed qualifying for that final), qualified for the finals by garnering the fourth-highest points - behind Ivorians Murielle Ahouré and Marie-Josée Ta Lou as well as Elaine Thompson from Jamaica - from the six available qualifying 100m races. While the 29-year-old from Sapele (Delta State) was entered in all six, she ended up not running the race at the Lausanne Athletissima in Switzerland in early July.

The experienced sprinter's best result came in the opening meeting of the season, back in May in Doha, where she ran a 10.90 to finish second behind Ta Lou. Okagbare-Ighoteguonor's time remains the third-fastest regular time run this season (and she actually also has the fastest time run anywhere this year, a wind-assisted 10.72 in Austin in late March) but her speed has actually tailed off as the season has gone on.

The nett effect is that the two-time African champion (2010, 2014) is, at best, an outside bet to claim a podium place ... never mind the Diamond Trophy and monetary reward on offer for winning the 100m in Zurich.

Amusan has in some regards had a breakthrough season, during which she has become both Commonwealth and African 100m hurdles champion. At the African championships in Asaba she also teamed up with Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, Joy Udo-Gabriel and Rosemary Chukwuma to claim gold in the 4x100m relay (to better the bronze they achieved in the same event at Gold Coast 2018) to enhance the potential she has already shown at the age of 21.

The one blot on the University of Texas at El Paso graduate's 2018 copybook would be that she faltered back in March in the 60m hurdles final at the IAAF World Indoor Championship in Birmingham to only finish after cruising through the heats and semifinals.

Amusan's Diamond League form has also been mixed. In the three meetings she has run she has finished third (Rome), fifth (Rabat) and seventh (London) to claim the eighth and final automatic qualification position for the final in Brussels. That, though, doesn't tell the full story... her 12.68 last month in London is the same time she clocked to win her Commonwealth Games title.

Nonetheless, the Ijebu Ode-born sprinter remains just a yard behind the American trio of of Olympic champion Brianna Rollins-McNeal (who won three legs of the season), Sharika Nelvis and Kendra Harrison who is the current world record holder and indoor world champion. However, it can't be denied that her star is on the rise and while this year's finals might be too soon for her to claim a world crown the potential is there... and better the exploits of the legendary Glory Alozie.