By Dare Esan In Beijing:
Nigeria’s hope of returning home with a medal from the on-going 15th IAAF World Championships here in Beijing was dealt a mortal blow when sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, failed to come out for the 200m event on Wednesday.
The bronze medallist from the same event two years ago in Moscow did not leave any hint of not running as she was at the warm-up track prior to the race.
Those who have access to the warm-up area under the main Bird’s Nest stadium told completesportsnigeria.com Blessing was at the place but she wasn’t warming up like an athlete ready to go to the call room on the way to the track.
Completesportsnigeria.com’s efforts to speak to the officials failed to unearth the main reason for the no-show as none of them could explain what really went wrong.
Even Solomon Ogba, president of the Athletic Fedrration of Nigeria, did not have a prior notice Okagbare would not come out for the half-lap race.
London-based Nigerian journalist, Yomi Omogbeja, ran into Ogba on his way to the stadium and the former Delta State Sports Commissioner told him he was going to the stadium to see Okagbare run.
Okagbare herself has not come out to state why she didn’t run but Completesportsnigeria.com scooped from an authoritative source that Okagbare did not cop any injury.
The fear initially was that she must have been injured during her warm-up for the race but our sources revealed that was not the case.
“Ogba told me a few hours after the unfortunate incident that Blessing said she was not prepared for the race,” said the source who is very close to Ogba.
Complete Sports’ efforts to speak to Ogba were futile as he was said to be angry with the exposure of how the athletes were not given enough kits by the AFN.
Okagbare must have failed to recover from the shock of not making the podium in the 100m after posting the third fastest time in the world (10.80 seconds) coming to the championships.
She was not really active in the 200m in the circuit, racing only once and with a personal season’s best of 22.67 seconds.
She ran the 200m race at the Adidas Classics IAAF Diamond League race in New York, USA where she placed second behind Tori Bowie, who ran 22.23 seconds to win against Okagbare’s 22.67 seconds.
The second race she could have had was in Laussane but injury sustained in the long jimp earlier forced her to skip the 200m.
Competent sources said she did not want to race against athletes who seem better prepared for the event.
“I think Blessing put all her eggs in the 100m basket and was so disappointed she was not rewarded for her effort,” said the source.
Okagbare is yet to respond to messages sent by Complete Sports to both her phone and on Facebook.
In another twist to the story, Gabriel Okon, head coach of team Nigeria here in Beijing, says Okagbare copped a harmstring injury in her warm-up and had to withdraw from the race.
Okon, in a press release by the AFN, said Okagbare should be fit for the 4x100m relays which come up this weekend.
He said the harmstring strain is a grade one strain and doctors here have told Complete Sports recovery period for a grade one strain is one week which effectively rules out Okagbare from the relays.