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In Campbell-Brown, Schippers, Thompson, Okagbare faces uphill task

By Christian Okpara
03 August 2016   |   4:33 am
Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor is Nigeria’s only realistic medals hope in the sprints at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which begins on Friday. The former NIPOGA Games champion will feature in the 100m, 200m, the 4x100m relay and perhaps, the long jump.
Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor (centre) beat Veronica Campbell-Brown (right) to win the 100 metres gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. PHOTO: AFP.

Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor (centre) beat Veronica Campbell-Brown (right) to win the 100 metres gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. PHOTO: AFP.

Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor is Nigeria’s only realistic medals hope in the sprints at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which begins on Friday. The former NIPOGA Games champion will feature in the 100m, 200m, the 4x100m relay and perhaps, the long jump.

If she finally decides to do the long jump, which gave her a bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Games, Okagbare may be forced to drop one of the other events to enhance her chances of getting a medal in any of the remaining three. But nothing is cast on stone.

Even at that, no other event looks more difficult on paper than the women 200 metres race, as it features an intimidating line up of champions.Although Allyson Felix, who won at the London 2012 games, will miss her first 200m Olympic final in 12 years, there are other athletes in the lane capable of finishing ahead of the Nigerian gazelle if she failed to accelerate from the beginning of the race.

One of such runners is Veronica Campbell-Brown, who has been consistent among the winners in the last 20 years. Her performance in last year’s world championship final has made her one of the favourites for the gold medal.

Dafne Schippers and Elaine Thompson, who won gold and silver medals respectively at the Beijing World Championships, are tipped to battle themselves for the 100m and 200m gold medals in Rio.

Schippers, who until recently was competing in the heptathlon, is the pundits’ choice for the gold medal, but then Thompson comes to the race with a reputation as the fifth fastest woman of all-time (21.66) and some pundits believe that she can beat Schippers in Rio if she gets her acts right.U.S’s Tori Bowie, who has a personal best time of 21.99 seconds, is another threat to Okagbare’s ambition of a first 200m medal in the Olympics.

However, athletics buff, Sabinus Ikewuaku, who says he is a keen admirer of Okagbare, the Nigerian girl has the potential to win a personal medal in Rio if she chose her events carefully.“I read that she will compete in four events at the Olympics, which I think is wrong because too many events can take a toll on her.

“If I were her advisers, I would tell her to concentrate on two or at most three events. That is the long jump, either 100 or 200m and the relay. “At the Olympics, she may find it difficult to recover in time after each event and any injury in one event means that all the years of planning will amount to nothing. That is why she should not overstretch herself,” he said.