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Why Okagbare was left out as Team Nigeria’s assistant captain

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Funke Oshonaikle is Team Nigeria’s assistant captain to the Rio 2016 Olympics. PHOTO: AFP.

Funke Oshonaikle is Team Nigeria’s assistant captain to the Rio 2016 Olympics. PHOTO: AFP.

•Athletes demand ticket refund, contingent depart for Rio tomorrow

Facts have emerged on why Commonwealth and African sprints queen, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguenor, was not picked as assistant captain of Team Nigeria to the Rio Olympic Games.

Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, named John Obi Mikel as captain with table tennis player, Funke Oshonaike as assistant for the Rio Olympics.

While some Nigerians have raised questions on the choice of Mikel, a new comer to the Games, against Segun Toriola, who is attending his seventh Olympics, others have expressed mix feelings over the decision to ignore Okagbare, an Olympics bronze medalist, for Oshonaike, who had not come close to the medal zone despite several appearances at the Olympics.

To some analysts, Okagbare, a sprinter and jumper will stay longer in the Games and have a brighter prospect of winning a medal, which a captain needs to command respect of other athletes, than Oshonaike, who might just make up the number in Rio as usual. Apart from winning long jump bronze medal at Beijing 2008 Olympics, Okagbare was a finalist at London 2012, where other Nigerian athletes, including Oshonaike, fumbled.

However, the President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Solomon Ogba told The Guardian yesterday that the choice of Oshonaike over Okagbare as assistant captain to the Rio Olympics is in order.

“To me, the Sports Minister did not make any mistake in the choice of Oshonaike as assistant team captain to the Games. I have received several calls from people who think it should have been Okagbare. A team captain and the assistant must be on ground for the opening ceremony because they are the ones to carry the country’s flag. Okagbare told us she will arrive Rio on August 8,” he stated.

Ogba also spoke on the controversial letter, which was said to have emanated from the secretary of AFN, Olumide Bamiduro allegedly directing athletes to buy their tickets to Rio.

“I think the letter was just to enquire from the athletes how much a ticket to Rio from their different destinations could cost since some of them (athletes) wanted to buy tickets on their own. As we speak, some of the athletes have gone ahead to purchase their flight tickets to Rio despite the directive from the sports ministry.

“That is the problem we usually face in athletics because some of the athletes want to arrange their tickets in a way that will favour them. A majority of them may have entered for various athletics Meets around the world, where they will compete to make some quick money soon after the Rio Olympics. Now, they are asking for ticket refunds and we have to find a way to sort it out before our departure for the Games,” Ogba stated.

It was learnt yesterday that the first batch of Team Nigeria would depart for Rio de Janeiro through Ethiopia Airline tomorrow.


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