Blessing Okagbare had a progressive rise to the London Olympic Games final. About ten days to the Olympics, she ran 11 seconds in a Diamond League in Crystal Palace, London, to beat the big names in the sport including Carmelita Jeter of USA and Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica.
Few days later she ran her personal best of 10.96 seconds to win again in Monaco. She arrived the Olympic Games and improved on that in her first heat here which she won with 10.93 seconds, the second fastest time in the heats, only second to Jeter’s 10.83.
US’ Tianna Madison (L) and Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare compete in the women’s 100m heats at the athletics event during the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 3, 2012 in London. AFP PHOTO
Blessing was to improve on her speed again in the semi-final, running 10.92 to win although she fought from behind to outpace those who left her on the block. She won after it looked as if she was losing out.
The girl Nigerians banked on to win the country’s first medal here ran a disappointing 11.01 seconds in the final when all hoped that her progression would continue in the star-studded race. It simply meant that something wrong had happened. She confirmed this to Vanguard yesterday but vowed to move on. Fraser won and Jeter was third. Blessing was last.
“I’ll get some treatment and move on,” she said in a brief chat yesterday morning. It was her first reaction since Saturday night.
“I had cramp after the semi-final race. It was painful. I really worked hard and looked forward to a good outing. If it happened 24 hours before the final, I could have been fine. But it was too short a time. There must be a reason why this happened. And that’s why I must give glory to God,” she said.
Nigerians, especially online readers, have followed with goodwill messages. Officials were not left out too.
“I’m proud of her,” said President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Chief Solomon Ogba who did a lot to motivate Nigerian athletes.
“Getting to the final of the Olympic Games 100m event is a huge achievement and I’m sure that she will build on it. She has made us proud.” Ogba said.
Amaju Pinnick, the Delta State sports boss who has returned to Nigeria called after speaking with her to say “we are proud of her and we will fulfill all the promises we made to her. The most glamorous event in the Olympic Games is the men’s 100m final and the second is the women’s event. And for a Nigerian to be in the final and enjoyed good preview by the world press is something to be proud of. But for the cramp I think something could have happened. We leave it to God.”