Nigeria’s queen of the tracks, Blessing Okagbare, on Monday lost Nigeria’s major hope of getting on the medals table at the ongoing IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing, China, when she placed eighth in the women’s 100m final. She finished her performance in the Far East just as President Muhammadu Buhari also on Monday directed the National Sports Commission to put machinery in place to ensure that Team Nigeria win medals in swimming at the 2015 All Africa Games in Congo.
He said the directive was important so that the country can top the medals table in the competition.
The Director-General of the NSC, Alhaji Alhassan Yakmut, disclosed the presidential directive to State House correspondents after he briefed the President of the commission’s activities. Yakmut promised to implement the directive to the letter.
He said, “We briefed Mr. President on sports development in Nigeria and its retinue of social economic values.
“Mr. President was impressed with the presentation but he raised observation on the need for us to rekindle the exploitation of the medals available in swimming in order to ensure that Nigeria emerge tops at the All Africa Games in future.
“That is actually the presidential observation that we have taken interest in to ensure that it is implemented to the letter. You know that we also have cultures that are oriented with gymnastics and that culture is the one that we will first of all technically invest in, in terms of facilities, coaches and programmes to make sure we compete with others in swimming.”
Yakmut said his delegation also commended the Federal Government for being the highest financier of sports in Nigeria. He added that they sought the President’s intervention to encourage the private sector to do the same with their budget for Corporate Social Responsibility to promote sports.
The NSC boss said they also requested that Buhari should intervene to allow the Nigeria Lottery Trust Fund channel a good percentage of its resources or funds available for sports development as quoted in the Act that established it.
“The Act says the Funds in the Lottery Trust Fund are supposed to be disbursed for sports and other courses. But we are yet to see that in a good percentage in order to encourage grassroots sports,” he said.
In China, Okagbare had said on Sunday that her focus was on the title after she won the heats with ease and she made good her promise by coming second with a time of 10.89secs in the semi-finals behind Jamaican and title holder, Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who ran 10.82secs.
But Okagbare got her start wrong in the final and struggled to catch up with the others as she finished in 11.02secs. Jamaica’s Natasha Morrison, who Okagbare beat in the heats, was seventh with the same time but ahead with 200th of a second.
Fraser-Pryce won the race in 10.76secs to retain her title and claim her sixth gold medal in the World Championships. Netherland’s Dafne Schippers came second in 10.81secs to set her country’s national record while Tori Bowie of the USA placed third in 10.86secs.
Okagbare will now focus on the 200m, which will not feature Fraser-Pryce, hoping to win her first gold medal at her sixth World Championships.
Meanwhile, Team Nigeria’s hope of a medal suffered another blow as only one of the country’s athletes in the women’s 400m qualified for the semi-finals. Patience George came third in 50.87secs in one of the heats to qualify for Tuesday’s semi-finals.
The other quarter-milers, Regina George and Tosin Adeloye, placed fourth and fifth with a time of 51.74 and 52.42 in their heats respectively while Amaka Ogoegbunam came last in the heat of the women’s 400m hurdles on Monday. She arrived in 58.16secs.
Also, Tega Odele will be competing in the heats of the men’s 200m on Tuesday. (Punch)