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Okagbare Blames AFN For Her IAAF Championship Woes

Elite Nigerian female athlete, Blessing Okagbare has blamed the country’s athletics federation for the woes that hit her at this year’s IAAF World Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar, as she hinted that confusion over whether she would compete or not in the 200m ultimately led to her disqualification from the race.

Althiugh she appeared to struggle with injury in running to a fourth place finish in the said race, before she was disqualified for having crossed her lane during a bend, Okagbare insinuated that she could not concentrate on her preparations for the race because the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) initially bungled her registration for the race.

She went on to categorically scold the AFN for their role in her predicament at the championships in Doha, as the inclusion of her name and that of male sprinter, Divine Oduduru in the respective 100m events, which both did not want to participate in, meant they had flouted IAAF’s rules.

An excerpt of the competition’s rules states that at all competitions under Rules 1.1(a), (b), (c) and (f), an athlete shall be excluded from participation in all further events (including other events in which he is simultaneously participating) in the competition, including relays, in cases where:

It adds that (a) a final confirmation was given that the athlete would start in an event but then failed to participate; while also noting that a fixed time for the final confirmation of participation shall be published in advance.

It meant Okagbare and Oduduru stood ineligible for both the 200m and relay events that they both wanted to participate in and, although they were both eventually cleared to run, she went on to lay all blame on AFN officials for distracting her focus, as she alleged that they deliberately chose to register her for an event she had told them she was not interested in taking part in.

Okagbare told Association Press: “It’s not the first time they’ve done a thing like this. They deal with the African Games and national championships, but this is not Africa. We’re not running at national championships.

“People here take the rules seriously and we keep bending them. It’s wrong. It’s incompetency. I feel like they’re wasting my world championships. I don’t know how many more I have. I’m 30.”

Meanwhile, reactions continue trailing Okagbare’s poor show in Doha, with some experts agreeing that too much pressure affected her, especially after AFN’s technical director and athletes’ representative, Sunday Adeleye was fingered for the bungled registrations.

Track and field experts are also reacting to a decision by the sports minister, Sunday Akinlabi Dare to order a recall of Adeleye back home.

Dare directed the immediate recall of Adeleye on Sunday over glaring administrative lapses and violation of the rules and regulations of the IAAF in Doha, for which the AFN’s former technical director, Brown Ebewele said it was the right step.

Ebewele, fondly called ‘Juju Man’ by his admirers, added: “Long before now, Sunday Adeleye had demonstrated that he does not have such capacity to be the technical director of the AFN. Even the former sports minister, Solomon Dalung set up a panel to investigate him but, as soon as he left office, some people in the sports ministry swept the report under the carpet.

“About 120 athletes signed a paper calling for his removal long ago. Now that Adeleye has shown to the entire world his level of incompetence as AFN technical director, I want to see how his ‘godfathers’ in the sports ministry will defend him.”

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