Nigeria’s foremost elite athlete and reigning Commonwealth Games fastest woman, Blessing Okagbare, has revealed the reasons behind her failure to win medals at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The former African sprint queen said that the change in her training regime from 2010 to 2014 following the termination of her former coach’s contract affected her performances negatively at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
“The change actually slowed me down as I was used to the regime of my former American coach whose expertise made me win lots of races and jumps. The styles imputed in me during his reign from 2010 to 2014 made me a great athlete. At the London 2012 Olympics, my coach prepared me such that once I stand upright in a sprint, I will just be flying. That was when I ran 100 metres at 10.79 seconds. I was good to win a medal at the London 2012 Olympics, but the pressure was too much on me to help Nigeria at least win a single medal just for the taking. I tried my best but, other determined athletes from other countries of the world put me down with their spectacular races in the 100m and 200 metres finals. I was primed to win but, it didn’t happen the way I expected.”
Okagbare, noted that, before the Rio Olympics, she was not in her best form as she was still trying to adjust to the pattern of the new coach. This works with the entire body chemistry.
“With my average pace, some people rumoured that I was pregnant at Rio, but that was never the case. I was simply adjusting to the training regime of my new coach. The hman body is not a machine.”
She stressed that, even as she failed to win individual medals in the 100m and 200metres, there was an opportunity to win in the women’s 4x100m relays.
“We failed to win in the relays, because our coach came late for the race and there was no one to coordinate us. The selection of athletes for the different legs of the race was made by the athletes as the coach was nowhere to be found.”
The Beijing 2008 Olympic medalist, also stated that, her desire to compete in the long jump event at the Rio Olympics was thwarted by an injury she sustained during the pre-games’ preparations.
“I had pains in my knee, so I had to drop the desire to do long jump which my coach believes I would win a medal for my country.”
Okagbare, who promised a better outing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, expressed her displeasure on the increased recruitment of ‘spent’ American sprinters who just wear Nigeria’s colours without making any difference.
“It is sad that the Athletic Federation of Nigeria, AFN, kept recruiting American athletes who are not good enough to win for America and neither can they beat me in my events. It is total waste of resources. Athletes that should be recruited must be the ones who can win international laurels for Nigeria. The AFN should pay more attention to grooming Nigerian young talents instead of wasting hard earned resources on unproductive American athletes.”