Just as predicted, Blessing Okagbare Wednesday picked her fifth, consecutive 100m title of the blue ribband event of the Cross River/All Nigerian Athletics Championships in Calabar.
The Beijing Olympic bronze medalist in the women’s long jump, posted an encouraging 11.25 secs to leave the silver for Gloria Asumnu (11.47). Home-based Peace Ukoh (11.67) of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps settled for the bronze and the prospect of being selected in Nigeria’s 4x100m relay team at the IAAF World Championships slated for August in Moscow, Russia.
Okagbare who was unimpressed with the time she clocked to win the race however told THISDAY that she was looking forward to doing well at the World Championships,
“I know my time is not really what I wanted but winning here is all that matter to me. I am going to step up my preparations for Moscow so as to be able to achieve something there,” observed the former University of Texas in El Paso (UTEP) general studies graduate.
When asked of her expectations from both the athletics federation and the National Sports Commission as regards preparations for the World Championships, Okagbare shocked reporters with her reply.
“My expectations from the federation and the government? Nothing. I am not expecting anything because I have not been getting the needed support to help me achieve greatness in the sport. This is a World Championship year and athletes hoping to achieve have all kinds of support from their governments and other sponsors,” she noted.
The men’s sprint semi final and final hold Thursday with Ogho-Oghene Egwero the favourite to win the 100m event.
Meanwhile, Cross River State Sports Commissioner, Patrick Ugbe, is optimistic that Team Nigeria athletes to the 2013 IAAF World Championship in Moscow will break the jinx of not winning medal since 1999 at the championship in Moscow.
Said Ugbe: “Cross River, the nation new sports capital is becoming renown for giving lucky to all national teams. The Super Eagles played all their matches here and they returned home with Nations Cup which we last won in 1994, the Golden Eaglets also trained and played all their qualifying matches here and today they are in the Junior World Cup, I am positive that this team too will also return from Moscow with medals.”