*Says she’s honoured by the nomination
By Ben Efe
Former African sprint queen, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi who made the list of nominees for ministerial appointments in the cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan has been receiving accolades from athletics officials and now Onyali-Omagbemi the most decorated athlete in Nigeria’s track and field history is praying to land the sports minister’s job.
Though she was reluctant to comment on the issue, she expressed her desire to be among Jonathan’s wise men and women. Onyali-Omagbemi like the other nominees are waiting to be screened by the National Assembly, but she is hopeful of scaling all the hurdles to become the first Nigerian sports woman to be appointed a minister. She was particular about serving in the area of sports.
“First of all I’m not a politician. And so I’m honoured to be nominated by the President. It was down to him and I can only hope and pray that it all becomes a reality,” Onyali-Omagbemi said at the Cross River All Nigeria Championships.
She refused to be drawn into comments about what she would do to uplift the country’s sport, if she was eventually appointed minister.
“All I need now is just prayers of all well wishers. I cannot make any comments for now,” stated the former athlete who was looking cute and young in her evening dress with high heel shoes to match.
Onyali-Omagbemi dominated Nigerian sprints in the 80’s and the early 90’s. During her career spanning two decades she won 19 medals of all colors for Nigeria. She retired after the 2003 All Africa Games where she capped it all with gold.
She would be remembered for her heroic effort at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics Games where she fought tooth and nail to win her first individual Olympic medal in the women 200m event.
She served as a member of the Sports Thematic Group of the Vision 20:2020 appointed by the late president, Alhaji Umaru Musa YarÁdua to fashion ways to make Nigeria’s sports rank among the best 20 in the world.