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“At times it would be like ‘should I move to another country?'”: Blessing Okagbare Speaks on Team Nigeria’s #Rio2016 Preparation & Performance

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Blessing Okagbare

Blessing Okagbare

One of Nigeria’s foremost sprinters, Blessing Okagbare has disclosed that sometimes she contemplated running for another country due to the unfavourable conditions in Nigeria.

She made this known in an interview with PUNCH’s Pius Ayinor.

Okagbare said that the London Olympics was by far better that the just concluded Rio Olympics, lamenting the fact that there was no support for athletes.

Read excerpts below:

How was Rio 2016 generally like for you?

It didn’t feel like an Olympic for me but not because I didn’t win a medal. This is my third Olympics and I have been to Olympics that everything was so cheerful and the athletes were very happy. But for this Rio, I don’t know about other people in Team Nigeria as I’m speaking for myself, the morale was just low. Some of the girls come to me and we talk. Some times when they say these things (about how bad they feel), I just feel like these people feel the same way I feel. Everything about Rio was just low. This is the worst Olympics we’ve had.

Was it about the preparations?

Prior to coming here was bad, I don’t understand what they wanted us to do in Rio. At times you go to other countries, mix with the athletes and you see a people getting quality support. But it’s not so with the Nigerian contingent. It comes to a point where you just try to do everything for the sake of your passion as well as for your fans.

Talking about medals I was watching you before the Rio 100m race. I saw you bending for a long time, were you reluctant to run?

No, I wasn’t reluctant to run, I was ready and I felt like I was in the best shape of my life coming here (Rio Olympics). It still surprises me (how things turned out). I posted something on Facebook that there are certain things that don’t make sense, there are things that you just don’t understand.

Like what?

Like this competition, I put in my commitment despite having good reasons to stay away. I had some injuries but I worked so hard to come in here (Rio), and when the competition started it was just different; it was just like I wasn’t in it.

Did your injuries and mindset affect your general performance?

I don’t know, I was still trying my best, but you don’t force it. You just get in line and run, because you’ve been doing that training already. I can’t explain it, so let’s leave it there. When you go to a major championship, you don’t think too long. You don’t have that time.

I was in London too, we didn’t win anything but the athletes looked more determined than in Rio…

I went to Beijing when I was 19. I was so young and naive. Beijing was one of the best Olympics for us; we had entitlements, encouragement and all. They supported us and we were quite encouraged. But in Rio it’s like all they just wanted was for you to show your face and leave. I don’t know but it’s as if they didn’t want us to come here. Last time I heard the minister say a gold medal winner would get $2000 and I asked ‘is that what a gold medal is worth?’ And before I knew, it was actually in the media. You don’t bring that kind of stuff to athletes in the name of encouragement because we know what other athletes from other countries get. It’s been a problem and every year, I wish things would be different. At times it would be like ‘should I move to another country?’ But you may understand why I refused to change. It’s my career and my passion so I enjoy it and that is what drives me. And that’s why I am still on the track and for Nigeria.

Read the full interview HERE.

11 Comments

  1. keke driver

    September 16, 2016 at 10:34 am

    My dear what are you waiting for? Move o, Nigeria is currently not a serious place for ANYTHING SPORT(s)….from the president, to the very confused Minister of Sports.

    • ATL's finest

      September 16, 2016 at 1:06 pm

      I’m telling U. Just like Regina George was born in the States, so imagine if she was running for America. Most of these folks were born here but from another place. She’s one of Nigeria’s greatest in running so I can imagine if she had the American training in her. I mean few days ago, I was watching a relay race & of course Nigeria didn’t only get DQ, they were so behind it wasn’t funny.

      Good luck to U Blessing & all the BEST. Do what’s BEST for U.

  2. Anonymous

    September 16, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Blessing you answered your own questions…Nne its not too late

  3. Okechukwu Ofili

    September 16, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    This is what happens when you have an epic collection of clueless ministers!

    • sheke

      September 17, 2016 at 7:28 pm

      Okechukwyu, you seem to be showing quite a lot of ignorance these days which is worrying considering that I used to think you were quite intelligent. Ministerial positions are political and has little to do with systems and structures. The sports ministry has several institutions under it and if you follow sports at all. You will realise it has little or nothing to do with Ministers. Infact, they are warned from inteferring globally. most especially for football to reduce political affiliation

  4. Marlvina

    September 16, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    My dear are you waiting for Buhari to give you an answer?

  5. EE

    September 16, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    $2000 x N380= N760,000. Try and understand, Nigeria is poor, but if you win the gold, endorsements will go to you, not the country. Be like everybody else here, succeed for your damn self.

    No need reiterating my view that sending athletes to the Olympics is a waste of scarce funds, so we rejoice at “our” victory, how much does it add to our GDP???

    • Frida

      September 16, 2016 at 9:49 pm

      You my dear are pathetic .

  6. rain

    September 16, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    please my dear move to where you will get your best……sports is a short career

  7. Tosin

    September 16, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Blessing, we love you, but feel free to go and win. If it means dumping us for a few years, we understand.

  8. Idomagirl

    September 18, 2016 at 1:14 am

    Nne biko go where you will be encouraged to shine properly, Nigeria isn’t worth it.

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