The decision by Nigeria’s sprint queen and lone medal hopeful at the on-going Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor not to compete in the usual 100m and 200m is not going down well with some top officials of the Sports Ministry.
Okagbare recently smashed the 22.07 seconds African 200m record set by Mary Onyali some 22 years ago. She also had a blistering performance in the 100m at a recent meet in Texas, USA, to raise hopes of another successful sprints double, when she defend her Commonwealth Games titles.
Unknown to many, Okagbare had entered for only the 4x100m relay event instead of the usual 100m, long jump and 200m events. Team Nigeria’s camp in Australia is said to be in turmoil since it was discovered Okagbare had opted for one event.
However, a top official of the team, who spoke with The Guardian yesterday from the Gold Coast, Australia, hinted that some top officials of the Sports Ministry, as well as the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) were ‘working’ on Okagbare to change her decision.
“I have spoken with Okagbare on this issue and I can tell you that she is not happy with the way Nigerian government treated her when she was injured. This girl went through a lot for over three months battling with her injury, and many people thought she wouldn’t recover from it not to talk of running fast again. There was no form of assistance or financial grant to assist her during the rehabilitation. She felt abandoned by the Sports Ministry and the AFN. She feels it is not worth taking risk for the country that abandoned her in time of need. But some top officials are talking to her. Maybe, things could change before athletics events commence on April 9,” the official said.
The Guardian also learnt yesterday that apart from the anxiety in Team Nigeria’s camp, organisers of the Commonwealth Games are also unhappy that Okagbare will not be defending the sprint titles she won at the last Games.