By Ben Efe
Nigeria’s failure to win a medal at the just concluded IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China remains the talk of the moment for athletics enthusiasts. Yesterday renowned athletics coach, Toni Urhobo declared that Athletics Federation of Nigeria’s claim of injury to Blessing Okagbare was diversionary.
Urhobo said Okagbare bowed to pressure of competing at the big stage with the big girls of world athletics.
Okagbare despite running one of the fastest times in the season, failed to measure up in the women 100m. She placed 8th in the race won by Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce of Jamaica. Okagbare who vowed to bounce back in the 200m, made a no show and that caused a furore.
“It wasn’t injury that made Okagbare crash out. She cracked under pressure,” Urhobo argued
“Running in the grand prix is totally different from competing in the world championships or Olympics. The grand prix where she has been making good times is a one day event, unlike the worlds championships; they are gruesome and you have to go through the rounds, you need a special kind of training to be able to cope with the pressure.
“If she was injured, why were the members of the women 4x100m expecting her to compete until the very morning of their heats? Urhobo quarried.
“We are waiting to see whether she will compete at the All Africa Games. That’s where she feels more comfortable, whereas other African big acts don’t come there with their stars; they rather use the Games as a launching pad.”
He said that coaches that were at Beijing 2015 have no credential and technical ability to uplift the team.
“Our coaches were not up to it in Beijing. The federation does not want to go for quality; we have capable hands like me who are ready assist at a price. But they still prefer to beat around the bush.
“Look at the women 4x400m. They did their best in the heats only to fade out in the final; it boils down to coaching,” said the veteran coach.