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Nigerian athletes won’t disappoint – Okowa

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Blessing Okagbare after she ran a wind assisted 10.62 seconds during the AFN National Trials held at Yaba College of Technology. Lagos

I Feel Healthy, Stronger, Says Okagbare
President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Tonobok Okowa says his board is working hard to ensure that the nation break the long jinx by winning gold medals in the fast approaching Tokyo Olympic Games.

Team Nigeria left Rio 2016 Olympics with only a bronze medal won by the men’s football team.

The country’s third and last gold medal came at Sydney 2000 in the men’s 4x400m. The first two gold medals were captured at Atlanta ’96 Olympics through Chioma Ajunwa in the long jumper and men’s football team.

Okowa told The Guardian shortly after sprinter Blessing Okagbare ran a wind assisted world lead of 10.63second in the 100m event on the first day of the National Trials at Yaba College of Technology in Lagos that Nigeria would shock the world in Tokyo.

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“I am very optimistic that Team Nigeria will capture some gold medals, particularly in the track and field events in Tokyo,” Okowa said. “From what I have seen today, coupled with the performance of our athletes since the beginning of the season, I am sure we have stars who can deliver in Tokyo. All we need do in the AFN board is to give the athletes the morale and financial support they need.”

Though, Okagbare’s 10.63seconds in the 100m was wind assisted (2.7), former African medallist in 400m hurdles, Victor Okorie, a member of the newly elected AFN board says it is a sigh of many good things to come.

“I am really excited that our athletes are in good shape for the Tokyo Olympics, and the performance by Okagbare and Enoch Adegoke is a good way of ushering in our board,” Okorie told The Guardian.

After winning the 100m on Thursday, Okagbare said: “I feel healthy, stronger and like the real Blessing Okagbare again. I am really happy that this time came down today. It will boost my confidence, my faith and trust in God. I just hope this same thing happen at the Olympics.”

Incidentally, it was at the same Yaba College of Technology Okagbare made her mark far back in 2005. That year, Okagbare, who was then a student of Delta State Polytechnics, Otefe, won two gold medals for her school at the maiden West African Polytechnics Games, and a lead story by The Guardian highlighting her potential as the next Mary Onyali of Nigerian track caught the attention of Solomon Ogba, who was then Commissioner of Sports in Delta State under the Chief James Ibori’s administration. A wise Ogba quickly dispatched an official to Otefe to fetch the young Okagbare to be part of Team Delta’s trails in Enugu, where she dusted other programme athletes in preparation for Gateway 2006 National Sports Festival held in Ogun State. The state government quickly moved Okagbare to Delta state university, Abraka, where she was later given a scholarship to study in the United States.

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