By Ben Efe
Nigeria sprint star, Blessing Okagbare is hoping to get one more shot at world glory at the 2015 World Championships and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil in her elusive search for her first international gold medal.
According to jumps coach Olu Sule, Okagbare might as well be barking on the wrong tree as she aims for the height in the sprints, because there are too many talents popping up each year even as Okagbare is not getting any younger.
“Okagbare should be concentrating on the long jump (because) she has more potential there. She is training for the 100m where there too many sprinters who are ahead of her. She should be focused on the long jump where she has enormous resources to make a potential 7.50m jump.
“She has technique and great speed, which I have seen only in Chioma Ajunwa. Okagbare has height and long reach, she should consider this ahead of the 2016 Olympics because it is always going to be crowded in the 100m and 200m,” said Sule, a former national triple jump champion.
Okagbare reached her highest performance in 2013 when she ran 10.79 seconds to set a new African record and this gave hope to athletics officials that she might win the gold at the Worlds in Russia. But she was overwhelmed by the heat of the competition as Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, Cote d’Ivoire’s Murielle Ahoure and USA’s Carmelita Jeter and others pushed Okagbare to a seventh place finishing with a time of 11.04 seconds. Fraser-Pryce finished at 10.71..
However, Okagbare settled for bronze in the 200m after race favourite Allyson Felix pulled a muscle. But in the women long jump she won silver with 6.89m behind US Britney Recce who won with 7.01m.
“It is even going to get tougher in the years to come. It will do her a world of good if she trains only for the long jump ahead of the 2016 Olympics,” Sule added.