By Dare Esan In Beijing:
Blessing Okagbare should not have been placed in lane 9 in Monday’s 100m final going by the 10.89 seconds she ran in the semi-final.
That was the thinking here in Beijing a day after the race and Okagbare’s manager is reportedly furious with the IAAF.
Okagbare, by her time, should have drawn one of the middle lanes as was done for Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown who also ran 10.89 in the semi-final and was dtawn in lane four.
Paul Doyle, Okagbare’s manager, reportedly felt his athlete was left unsupported by her federation, the Athletic Federation of Nigeria, whose technical director, Omatseye Nesiama, failed to protest the lane placement.
“This is one of the problems we have when we don’t use merit but politics to pick who heads a department as technical as the technical committee,” said one of the Nigerian athletes who begged not to be named for the fear of being persecuted.
The athlete could not understand why a man who was neither an ex-athlete nor a coach could be made to head such a sensitive position.
“In this era of the sport going scientific and federations all over the world going for a sports scientist or an ex international with a little knowledge of sports heading such a committee, we chose to put a dilletante in charge,” the athlete further said and wondered what such respected people like Dr Ken Anugweje, a professor of sports science or professor Tunde Makanju as well as Falilat Ogunkoya, arguably Nigeria’s cleanest and on account of that most successful athlete, were doing when AFN president Solomon Ogba unilaterally named Nesiama as technical director.
Okagbare, it was argued, would not have been too far from the major contenders if she had been drawn in either lane 3, 4 or 7.