Athletics enthusiasts who were looking forward to a re-enactment of the keen rivalry between Mary Onyali-Omagbemi and Endurance Ojokolo at the African Masters Championships, which ends today at the Teslim Balogun Stadium will watch proceedings go down without the two women who were the major attraction.
Onyali-Omagbemi who had a long hold on the Nigeria women sprint has had many rivals including Rafina Uba, Tina Iheagwam, Christy Opara-Thompson and Mercy Nku but it was nothing compared to that, which brewed between Onyali–Omagbemi and Ojokolo.
The last time they competed was in 2003, during the All Africa Games in Abuja. Ojokolo had shocked Onyali during the national trials, it was a fiercely contested race that held the National Stadium Abuja spell bound. But at the All Africa Games, Onyali-Omagbemi proved why she was the queen of African tracks then. She shocked Ojokolo to the 100m women gold.
During the first meeting of the organising committee for the African masters, Onyali-Omagbemi had expressed her desire to race against Ojokolo. The Sapele-born sprinter who is aspiring to be Nigeria’s number one youth coach also looked forward to the race, but yesterday they both had different tales.
‘Oh no no, I won’t be there,” said Onyali-Omagbemi who is now special assistance to National Sports Commission Director-General, Tunde Elegbeleye.
“I am very busy, there are projects we are working on at the moment.”
As for Ojokolo, she has been knocked out by the call of motherhood. She delivered a baby recently.
“I would have loved to be in Lagos but obviously I cannot. However, next year if I am fit, I want to race in the Masters,” said a happy Ojokolo.