Blessing Okagbare: disappointed after being disqualified

Nigeria’s hope of a podium finish in the women’s 100m event at the ongoing African Games in Rabat, Morocco was dashed on Monday following the disqualification of the country’s queen of the tracks, Blessing Okagbare.

The former African 100m record holderdream of ending her career with an African Games sprint title thus evaporated as she was disqualified in the semi-final of the blue ribband event leaving pre-race favourite, Cote D’Ivoire’s Marie Josee ta Lou the opportunity to successfully defend the title she first won four years ago in Congo Brazaville.

Okagbare came to the Games as the second joint second fastest woman in Africa over the distance and had a 50- 50 chance of winning her first 100m title at the Games after winning a silver medal eight years ago in Maputo, Mozambique but a needless false start in a line up in which she had only Ta Lou to contend with for the two automatic ticket for Tuesday’s final ended her aspiration and denied Nigerians nay Africans the opportunity of seeing the much a much anticipated titanic battle for the blue ribband gold between her and the Ivorien, Ta Lou.

With Okagbare’s ouster,Nigeria will have only one athlete in the final of the event after Making of Champions’ Joy Udo-Gabriel won her semi-final heat in 10.47 seconds, one hundredth of a second slower than her opening round heat.

In the men’s version, the duo of Usheoritse Itsekiri and Raymond Ekebwo made it to the final with both winning their respective semi-final heats.

Itsekiri ran 10.25 seconds to win the second semi-final while Ekevwo was a hundreth of a second slower to win the third semi-final.Nigeria’s third entrant in the race,Seye Ogunlewe failed to advance after finishing fourth in the second semi-final in 10.45 seconds.

Itsekiri and Ekevwo will be sure candidates for the podium in the final on Tuesday with the duo of Cote d’Ivoire’s Cisse Gue Arthur who ran 10.27 seconds to come second in the second semi-final and Gambia’s Camara Ebrahima who also ran 10.27 seconds to win the second semis.

Meanwhile, Grace Anigbata made history to become the second Nigerian woman to win the triple jump gold 24 years after Rosa Collins (now a member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria) won the event’s inaugural title in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Anigbata, who last year first made history as the first Nigerian to win gold in the event at the African Championships hopped, stepped and jumped into a 13.75m personal seasons’ best to win the title ahead of Morocco’s Chnaik Jamaa (13.69m) and South Africa’s Chabangu Zinzi (13.59m).

In the men’s discus final, Nigeria’s Ogundeji Ayomidotun Kelvin settled for the silver medal with his 57.82 throw behind Egypt’s Ahmed Shebab who threw 59.29m to win the gold.

In the women’s 400m, the Nigerian trio of Favour Ofili, Obi Amarachukwu Jecinta and Patience Okon-George qualified for Tuesday’s semi-finals with Ofili running 52.20 seconds to win her heat. Obi ran 55.24 seconds to place third in her heat while Okon-George was second in her own heat in 54.99 seconds.