Rise and fall of Nigerian Track queen Blessing Okagbare

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Blessing Okagbare rose to stardom in track and field events but fell after so many achievements and accolades.

Blessing Oghnewresem Okagbare-Otegheri  is a former Nigerian track and field athlete who specialized in Long jump and sprints. She is an Olympic and World Championships medalist in the long jump and a world medalist in the 200 meters. She also holds the Women’s 100 meters Commonwealth Games record for the fastest time at 10.85 seconds.

Her 100 m best of 10.79 made her the African record holder for the event until it was beaten by Murielle Ahouré in 2016. On June 17, 2021, Okagbare ran a wind-aided 10.63 100 m. She was the African record holder over the 200m with a time of 22.04 seconds in 2018, thus making her the second-fastest African female athlete over the 200m behind Christine Mboma.

Okagbare was born in Sapele, Delta, in Nigeria. She was enc teachers and family encouraged her to take up sports. Initially, she played football as a teenager at her high school and later, in 2004, she began to take an interest in track and field. She participated in several disciplines early on, competing in the long jump, triple jump and high jump events at the Nigerian school championships and winning a medal in each. On the senior national stage, she was a triple jump bronze medalist at the 2004 Nigerian National Sports Festival. Okagbare’s first international outing came at the 2006 World Junior Championships in Athletics, where she performed in the qualifying rounds of both the long and triple jump competitions.

In May 2007, at the All-Africa Games trials in Lagos, she established a Nigerian record of 14.13 meters in the triple jump. At the 2007 All-Africa Games she won the silver medal in the long jump and finished fourth in the triple jump. In the latter competition her Nigerian record was beaten by Chinonye Ohadugha, who jumped 14.21 meters.

As a 19-year-old, she won a silver medal in the women’s long jump event at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. She was selected to compete at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics but did not start either the 100 m or long jump.

It was initially reported that Okagbare was banned from representing Nigeria at the 2016 Olympics. The Athletics Federation of Nigeria eventually refuted the claim. Though she opted out of the individual events at the All-Africa Games, she did run in the 4 × 100 m relay and help the Nigerian team (Cecilia Francis, Okagbare, Ngozi Onwumere and Lawretta Ozoh) secure the gold medal.

Blessing had a disappointing show at the 2016 Rio Olympics, as she finished without a single medal. She never made it to the final but was ranked 3rd in the 100m semifinal finishing at 11.09s, and ranked 8th with her teammates in the final of the 4 × 100 m relay.

Okagbare won her first round heat in the 100 metres with a time of 11.05. She was subsequently suspended on 31 July 2021 after failing a drug test taken on 19 July 2021, which tested positive for human growth hormone.

On 18 February 2022, the AIU announced that Okagbare had been given a 10-year ban for “multiple breaches of anti-doping rules”.

The athletics body said Okagbare was banned for five years for the use of multiple prohibited substances and another five years for not cooperating with the investigation.

Okagbare is currently 38 years old and would be 48 years old when the ban is lifted and would not have the strength to do the track and field.

This is not a  good way to end a career in sports and this is how Blessing Okagbare fell after so many acheivement.

 

Sportscliffs

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