Lagos – Stakeholders in athletics believe that the powerful start by Blessing Okagbare in being the first African woman to make the podium at the ongoing World Athletic Championships was a sign of more good things to come.
The Nigerian won a silver medal in the long Jump event with a jump of 6.99 metres.
According to them, her victory is a signal for a good outing at the Moscow meet.
Some in Lagos said that the confidence of the other athletes could be boosted by Okagbare’s medal.
American Brittney Reese had won the gold with a jump of 7.01 metres, while Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic was placed third with 6.82 metres.
Omatseye Nesiama, the Technical Director, Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) told NAN on telephone from Moscow that it was a sign of a new beginning.
“To God be the glory. More medals will follow by God’s grace,’’ he said.
Nesiama, then appealed to philanthropists and corporate bodies to embrace the AFN’s strategic project, saying athletics would be revived through the implementation of the plan.
“I want to call on well-meaning, athletics loving-Nigerians and corporate bodies to embrace the AFN’s strategic project, RIO 2016, released late in 2012 and buy into it.
“It is something that can work for us as a country. By God’s grace, we will achieve more,’’ he said.
Tunde Suleiman, a long jump coach, said Okagbare’s performance would help other athletes to believe in themselves, saying: “Blessing has opened the door for other athletes.
“From her performance, others will no longer be scared to face the challenge.
“Her situation is reminiscent of what Falilat Ogunkoya did at the 1996 Atlanta Games, where she was the first to win a medal, after which others followed,’’ he said.
Suleiman, currently in camp preparing the junior athletes for the Africa Junior Championships in Mauritius, said he was optimistic that athletes like Tosin Oke would excel in the triple jump event.
“I believe that Nigerians will rekindle confidence in the sport again. Jumps will have a new face now,’’ he said.
Tony Urhobo, a former president of AFN, while commending Okagbare, noted that she should not `rest on her oars’.
He urged other athletes to emulate her zeal.
Okagbare was the first African woman in the competition to win a World Championships medal.
The championships would end on Aug. 18. (NAN)