Controversy broke out yesterday, following a purported ban of Africa’s fastest woman, Blessing Okagbare, on account of her decision to boycott the ongoing All-Africa Games, AAG, in Congo.
“Blessing Okagbare has been excluded from representing Nigeria at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil,” was the terse SMS message a senior Nigeria Sports Commission, NSC officials purportedly sent from Congo.
Okagbare had a disjointed outing at the final of the 100metres at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China. The Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, claimed that she was injured, which prevented her from running in the 200metres final and disrupting the plan for the 4x100mteres final.
Although there was no official statement from NSC, Nigerian Pilot gathered that officials are angry that Okagbare showed up in Zurich for the final of the Diamond League, ‘full of life, energy and full of great form’. She delivered an impressive 10.98 seconds to win silver in the 100metres women.
Officials of the NSC feel a strange explanation. Her claim of injury in Beijing was as a result, doubted. To get back at her, the decision was taken to then exclude her from next year’s Olympics.
The AFN has meanwhile, described as outright falsehood, media reports that fleet footed Africa queen of the track and field, Blessing Okagbare, has been banned by NSC, and AFN, from participating in the Rio 2016 Olympics Games.
A statement signed by Olukayode Thomas, a member of the board of AFN and Head of Communication and Media, described the report as false.
“Why would a reporter report that Okagbare has been banned from the Rio Olympics and will not attribute such an important story to a staff of NSC or AFN? The story is not true.’’
Thomas revealed that Okagbare has not done anything that would warrant the federation to ban her.
Okagbare has refused to comment on her reported ban from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games next August, preferring to keep mum.
“I am not saying anything now until I get to the bottom of this and their reasons,” said Okagbare yesterday.
However, Nigerian Pilot learnt that, following her decision to skip the 2015 All Africa Games, the National Sports Commission and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, placed a ban on the sprinter, excluding her from representing the country at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.
Okagbare, had a dismal outing at the IAAF World championships in Beijing, China. She claimed that injury forced her out of the competition, where Nigerians expected her to win a medal, having run the third fastest time of the season in the 100m.
After the Beijing meet, Okagbare told officials of the AFN not to expect her in Congo. But amazingly, she showed up in Zurich, and ran 10.98 seconds in the Diamond League, much to the chagrin of athletics officials who gave her the benefit of the doubt because of her purported injury.
The NSC and the AFN examined the circumstances bordering her decision to dock the AAG, and came to the conclusion to deny the athlete any chance of appearing in next year’s Olympics.

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