The Burden of a Sprint Star

The Burden of a Sprint star

The Burden of a Sprint star

Pity Blessing Okagbare! The Nigerian athletic star, without a doubt, bears a heavy burden. Forget her looks—the beautiful face that betrays no anxiety. Truth is, if you were Blessing Okagbare, you might not but feel pressure or be anxious most times.  That is the price to pay when you are considered the best medal prospect in athletics in a country of  approximately 170 million people, Africa’s biggest and most populous nation.

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Just a couple of weeks back, Okagbare participated in the International Association of Athletics Federations, IAAF that held in Beijing. As in previous athletic events, the Sapele, Delta State-born runner was looked upon as Nigeria’s major hope for a medal in the competition but she failed to excel. It was a disappointing moment but it wasn’t the first time Nigerians would be let down by the talented sprinter in a major competition. It happened in the last Olympics in London in 2012 as Okagbare left that country with no medal.

But it is not always bad news, as there had been good times as well as the runner had, before the London outing and the follow up Beijing event, excelled in some athletics events, one of which is the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year where she clinched two gold medals. The worry though, as some people have observed, is that Nigeria’s best sprinter falters more at major events like the Olympics and IAAF.

In the IAAF in Beijing, Okagbare placed eight out of nine in the 100 metres event.  Not a cheering news at all for the African champion. Following that dismal outing, many of her fans, never tired of expecting the best from her, hoped that she would make up for the disappointment in the 200 metres event.  That turned out to be false hope, as the 27 year old did not eventually feature in the final event, owing to injury.

Needless to say that Nigeria finished that competition without any medal as there was no upset from other Nigerian athletes in the competition. The main hope for a medal was Okagbare and once she failed to deliver, it was over. With the Beijing tournament over, attention now shifted to Congo-Brazzaville, venue of the All Africa Games where the elegant lady was expected to lead Nigeria’s medal chase but news soon emerged that the sprinter was still down with injury and might not show up in Congo…

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