By Onochie Anibeze, Moscow
Could Blessing Okagbare have done six Jumps in a day and on the following day do two highly competitive 100m races and ended up well?
Mike Afuleka, a track and field coach with England is among those who strongly felt that it was a difficult thing to do.
Mike took time to analyse the races Blessing ran from the heats to the final and pointed out two errors that slowed Blessing down. He was analysing the races to sports minister Bolaji Abdullahi when Nigerian journalists came in and Abdullahi invited the journalists to hear out the coach who recorded the races and played them back, analysing every move.
Blessing had complained of pains in the morning of the final. Her plan on Sunday was to only jump two times and rest her body for the 100m final on Monday. Her first jump was a 6.89m effort but United State’s Brittney Resse had jumped 7.01 in her second jump and Blessing knew that she had to do more.
That put pressure on her and she had to complete the six jumps, hitting a 6.99m effort that won her the silver. But the jumps had their toil on her and experts here say it could have been better for the Nigerian if the Long Jump event and the 100m were spaced out in the World Championship programme.
“I think the Long Jump affected her but there were other technical things. You saw how she started and what happened midway into the race,” Mike said.
“I have discussed with AFN President, Chief Solomon Ogba for them to know which event to concentrate on any time a programme of a championship clashes like we had here,” Abdullahi said. He has repeatedly said that Nigeria should celebrate the silver that Okagbore won on Sunday.
“Blessing cried all day after that race. Ogba brought her here. It was so painful to her. What pained her most was that the winner of the silver medal, Muriella Ahoure of Ivory Coast ran 10.93, a time that she could easily return,” the minister said, adding that “but she is fine now and ready for the 200m.”
Jamaica’s Shelly Anne Fraser Pryce won the race in 10.71 and Carmeliter Jeter of USA placed third with 10.94.
Blessing who just three weeks ago broke the 14 year old African record placed 6th with 11.04.
Abdullahi would like AFN to produce many top class athletes so that the pressure of doing well would not be on only one athlete. It is a job that the National Sports Commission which he heads would have to play a major role in achieving. Financial allocations to AFN, for years, have been meagre. Ogba says that “Abdullahi wants to change that.”