Okagbare Risks Ban From Rio 2016 Olympics
African and Commonwealth track queen, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, may have ‘jumped’ into the bad books of the National Sports Commission (NSC) and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), following her appearance at the Zurich Diamond League on Thursday, a few days after she failed to run for Nigeria in the 200m event at the just concluded IAAF World Championship in Beijing, China.
Okagbare was Team Nigeria’s medal hope at the IAAF Championship in Beijing. But she fumbled in the 100m final, finishing last, and also failed to show up for the 200m event four days later, despite appearing in the warm up area.
She claimed injury. While some Nigerians were yet to come to terms on what transpired in Beijing, there was a shocker a few days ago, when the AFN confirmed that Okagbare had opted out of Team Nigeria for the 11th All Africa Games in Congo.
Her decision to compete in the money spinning Diamond League in Zurich, Switzerland, on Thursday, where she placed second behind Jamaica’s Fraser-Pryce is not going down well with top officials of the NSC and AFN.
Okagbare, who is labeled ‘over pampered athletes’ by her contemporaries, did not show any sign of injury in Thursday’s Diamond League in Zurich, as she clocked 10.98 seconds to beat America’s Bowie Tori (11.06 sec) to the second position.
Fraser-Pryce ran 10.93 sec. A top official of the AFN fumed repeatedly while speaking with The Guardian on the issue yesterday, saying: “It is sad Okagbare could treat Nigeria this way. She has just demonstrated once more that she is always after money.
She does not have the interest of Nigeria at heart. “We have to take a firm stand on Okagbare this time. The Director-General of the NSC has made it clear even before now that any athlete who failed to represent Nigeria at the All Africa Games in Congo won’t be part of Team Nigeria’s contingent to Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
How come the injury she sustained few days ago in Beijing healed over night? Who is she fooling? Let Okagbare continue to make her money in the Diamond League.
We will channel our resources on other athletes. There is no going back on it,” the AFN official said. Before Thursday’s Diamond League in Zurich, Okagbare was standing in second position behind Fraser-Pryce who had amassed 12 points, as against Okagbare’ eight points.
Okagbare is aiming for the Diamond trophy and $40,000 star prize. The Zurich Diamond League was the 13th in the series and first of two finals.
The last leg of the series will hold in Brussels, Belgium, on September 11. Other Nigerian athletes and wrestlers are training in Abuja, as their events in the All Africa Games won’t commence until September 14. They are expected to depart next week for Congo.