By Onochie Anibeze reporting from London
Pat Itanyi preferred not to talk about the sports ministry or Nigeria’s preparation for the just concluded London Olympics.
But she simply spoke about what the country lacked and what they did wrongly that cost them a possible medal at the Olympics.
”Nigeria lacked world class athletes and they mounted a lot of pressure on Blessing Okagbare,” Itanyi said from her US base.
”I wonder how a country would be going to the Olympics and everybody would depend on one person for a medal. They thought Blessing could win the gold medal in 100m. Although there are surprises in sports but track and field is measurable. Blessing had never run 10.8 seconds in 100m and from the times athletes were returning in the months running to the Olympics track and field followers knew the winner would run about 10.8 seconds. Blessing was running 11 seconds and only ran a sub 11 one week to the Olympics. She got to the Olympics and did her personal best two times, running 10.93 and 10.92. I therefore maintain that Blessing did very well at the Olympics. Getting to the final was a great thing and running two personal best times was equally great.
The problem was that Nigeria expected too much from her and the pressure possibly got to her.” Itanyi, an Olympian, is a track and field coach in US. She also commended Ajoke Odumosu for reaching the final of 400m Hurdles.
”Ajoke surprised me. She did well and reached the final. Nigeria lacked the athletes to beat the people ruling the tracks and these athletes who reached the final of their events did well as far as athletics is concerned.
If you are running 11.10 or 11.20 seconds and suddenly run 10.8 seconds to win gold then something must have gone wrong and IAAF will not test only your urine and blood they will even test your bone.”
The thing Nigeria did wrongly was not guiding Blessing to take Long Jump seriously. She got bronze in Beijing in Long Jump and I thought that she would build on that. But she concentrated on 100m and did well only that people running faster times were many in the pool.”