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Okagbare, Nwokocha, 4x400m mixed relay team to open Nigeria’s medal charge in athletics



Despite the disqualification of some Nigerian athletes at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, due to their failure to meet up with the mandatory three out-of-competition tests, two of the country’s medal hopefuls, Blessing Okagbare and Grace Nwokocha, will be taking to the tracks on Friday in the women’s 100 metres.

Okagbare and Nwokocha are heading straight to the heats and will not be going through the rigours of competing in the preliminary rounds of the 100m.

Okagbare made her debut at the Olympics in 2008 at the Beijing Games where she won a silver medal in the women’s long jump.

The 32-year-old has since been a permanent fixture at subsequent Olympic Games, getting to the 100m final at the London Games in 2012 but placing 8th.

Okagbare has been on fire since the start of the year and shortly after winning her eighth national title at the Yabatech Sports Complex, Lagos, said she is looking forward to a glorious outing in Tokyo.

With a Personal Best of 10.79seconds, although she ran a wind-aided 10.63s in Lagos, Okagbare is confident of at least getting to the final of the 100m, where anything can happen.


“Since the start of this season, I see myself as very ready,” Okagbare said at the national trials in Lagos. 

“I feel healthy, stronger and like the real Blessing Okagbare again. I am really happy that this time came down,” the national record holder said at the time, referring to her wind-aided time at the trials.

 “It will boost my confidence, my faith and my trust in God. I just hope this same thing happens at the Olympics.”

For Nwokocha, the rave of the moment, Tokyo 2020 will be her first Olympics and she will be hopeful of making it a memorable one.

The 20-year-old came to limelight at the start of the year, running two new personal bests while also winning the 100m title at the National Sports Festival in Benin City, Edo State.


Her current PB and seasons best of 11.09s places her 81st in the world at the moment.

“My target for the Tokyo Olympic Games, is to do better than what I have been doing by improving my time in the 100m and 200m,” said Nwokocha, who has a PB and seasons best of 22.79s in the 200m.

Nwokocha will also take part in the 200m and 4x100m relays and hopes to make it a memorable maiden Olympics by appearing in the finals of all the events she will competing in. 

“I hope to be at the final of each event and by God’s grace I want to return home with a medal, especially in the 4x100m. That is my wish in Tokyo.”

She added: “I want to put in my best in Tokyo by making my country proud. I believe that when I make it to the final, it will please God that I will win a medal for Nigeria.”


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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