AFN Shocked Over Okagbare’s Suspension From Tokyo Olympics

A combination of file photos of Blessing Okagbare and the AFN logo.

 

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria says it received with great shock the press release by the Athletics Integrity Unit, suspending Blessing Okagbare from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics over a doping rule violation.

In a statement after AIU made the disclosure, the Federation said it was in the process of obtaining the relevant details of the announcement after which it would issue a full reaction.

AIU is an independent body created by World Athletics to manages all integrity issues – both doping and non-doping.

It noted that the Nigerian 100/200m record holder has been provisionally suspended with immediate effect after a sample collected from the 32-year-old tested positive for Human Growth Hormone.

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Growth Hormone is a non-specified substance on the 2021 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List and a provisional suspension is mandatory following an adverse analytical finding for such substance under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules.

AIU explained that it collected the sample from Okagbare during an out-of-competition test on July 19, saying the WADA-accredited laboratory that analysed the sample notified AIU of the adverse analytical finding at mid-day Central European Time on Friday.

The athlete was notified of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional suspension on Saturday morning in Tokyo.

She was scheduled to participate in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m scheduled for Saturday evening at the ongoing Olympic Games.

Okagbare’s suspension followed the disqualification of 10 other Nigerian athletes declared ineligible to compete at the games by AIU.

Those affected are Ruth Usoro, Favour Ofili, Annette Echikunwoke, Chioma Onyekwere, Glory Patrick, Chidi Okezie, Tima Godbless, Rosemary Chukwuma, Yinka Ajayi, and Knowledge Omovoh.

AIU said that the affected Nigerians were disqualified along with eight athletes from other countries while two others were replaced prior to the submission of their entries to World Athletics.

It explained that the affected athletes, who represented some ‘Category A’ Federations, were disqualified from the final entries for the Olympics for failing to meet the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 of the Anti-Doping Rules.

AIU listed the seven identified ‘Category A’ National Federations to include Nigeria, Belarus, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Ukraine.

Nigeria was listed in ‘Category A’ at the start of 2020 after a continued period of weak domestic testing levels.

Okagbare Suspended From Tokyo Olympics After Failing Drug Test

Okagbare was expected to lead Nigeria’s push for medals in Tokyo.

 

One of Nigeria’s brightest chances of a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Blessing Okagbare, has been provisionally suspended from the competition.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the independent body created by the World Athletics that manages all integrity issues for the sport, announced the decision on Friday.

According to the AIU, Okagbare tested positive for Human Growth Hormone.

“Growth Hormone is a non-specified substance on the 2021 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List and a provisional suspension is mandatory following an adverse analytical finding for such substance under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules,” the AIU said in its statement.

“The AIU collected the sample from Ms. Okagbare during an out-of-competition test on 19 July. The WADA-accredited laboratory that analysed the sample notified the AIU of the adverse analytical finding at mid-day Central European Time yesterday, Friday 30 July.

“The athlete was notified of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional suspension this morning in Tokyo.

“She was scheduled to participate in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m this evening.

“The AIU will make no further comment on this matter at this time.”

Okagbare and another Nigerian sprinter, Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha, had earlier qualified from their respective heats for the semi-finals.

But the ban means the end of the road for Okagbare, who was participating in her third Olympics.

Her suspension is the latest blow for Team Nigeria at the Tokyo Olympics.

On Thursday, the AIU had disqualified 10 Nigerian athletes from the Tokyo games for not complying with out-of-competition drug testing requirements.

Okagbare, Nwokocha Advance To 100m Semis At Tokyo Olympics

A combination of file photos of Nigerian athletes, Blessing Okagbare and Grace Nwokocha.

 

For the first time since 2012, two Nigerian athletes will be running in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m after Blessing Okagbare and Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha qualified from their respective heats at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Okagbare will be running in her third semis since she made her debut in the event at the London 2012 Olympics. She ran 11.05 seconds to win her first-round heat.

The 32-year-old has been drawn in the first semi-final heat alongside two heavyweights of the event – defending champion Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica who ran 10.82 seconds to win her first-round heat, and Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, the 200m world champion two years ago in Doha, Qatar who ran 11.07 seconds to come second in her first-round heat.

Okagbare, 2008 Beijing Olympics Long Jump silver medallist, will be in action at exactly 11.15 am Nigerian time on Saturday.

Nwokocha, on her part, ran a new personal best of 11.00 seconds to secure her qualification to the semi-finals in her debut at the Olympics.

The 20-year-old has also moved into fifth in the Nigeria all-time list behind Okagbare (10.79), Glory Alozie (10.90), Mary Onyali (10.97), and Damola Osayomi (10.99).

The home-based athlete who posted 11.09 seconds to secure her qualification for the Olympics in March at the MOC Grand Prix in Lagos will, however, need to make further history by breaking the 11 seconds barrier as the fifth Nigerian woman to do so to stand a chance of joining Onyali and Okagbare as debutants who ran all the way to the final of the event.

She has been drawn to run from lane nine in the third semi-final heat with the fastest woman alive, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, as well as Daryl Neita of Great Britain, Teahna Daniels of the USA, and fellow African, Muriel Ahoure of Ivory Coast.

Tokyo Olympics: Okagbare To Inspire Nigeria’s Track And Field Team

blessing okagbare tokyo 2020
Okagbare is expected to lead Nigeria’s push for medals in track and field in Tokyo.

 

Blessing Okagbare’s vast experience and remarkable performances is expected to inspire Team Nigeria’s track and field athletes when they start competing at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday, July 30th.

Alongside Okagbare are eleven other athletes namely: Oluwatobi Amusan, Ese Brume, Divine Oduduru, Grace Nwokocha, Chukwuebuka Enewechi, Enoch Adegoke, Usheoritse Itshekiri, Patience Okon-George, Imaobong Uko and Emmanuel Ojeli.

Favour Ofili and Ruth Usoro, both US-based collegiate athletes, who came into the Nigerian Olympics radar late in the qualifiers have completed two of the three mandatory out of competition tests, OCT, required and are awaiting final clearance.

READ ALSO: Fans Urged To Stay Away From Olympic Marathon Over COVID-19 Fears

Ten Nigerian athletes – most of whom are alternates who have not fulfilled the three mandatory OCT tests required – are in the process of taking their tests.

They must take the final tests one day before the competition. The process to get them tested has since been activated by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).

The athletics team has moved into the Olympic Village from their training camp in Kizarazu and will be in action from day one of the competition with Okagbare leading Grace Nwokocha in the women’s 100m heats.

The mixed relay team will also be in action as the team strives to return to the podium 13 years after it last did at the Games of the XXIX Olympiad held in Beijing, China in 2008.

While Okagbare will be competing in the event for the third time since she made it to the final at the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London in 2012, Nwokocha, the fastest home-based athlete since Mercy Nku ran 11.04 seconds in 1997 in Benin, will be making her Olympics debut in Tokyo

Okagbare Wins 8th National 100M Title

Blessing Okagbare.
Blessing Okagbare.

 

Nigeria’s undisputed queen of the track, Blessing Okagbare has raced to victory in the women’s 100m events on the opening day of the 2021 National Olympic Games trial in Lagos.

Okagbare an Olympics, World, and Commonwealth Games medalist finished in 10.62 seconds finish to win the women’s 100m title and her eighth National title in the event. With the win, she pushed aside Endurance Ojokolo to become the second most decorated sprinter in the blue ribband race after Mary Onyali who won 11 titles.

US-based athlete, Rosemary Chukwuma finished second in 11.07 while National Sports Festival winner, Grace Nwokocha finished third in 11.11 seconds to keep her fine form going.

In the semi-final heat, the experienced athlete showed fans what to expect in the final when she scorched to a 10.99 seconds finish.

Her 10.63 seconds result is the fastest time ever recorded in the national championship and the 2014 Commonwealth Games double sprint gold medal winner said she is in great form ahead of the delayed 2020 Olympic Games.

“I feel healthy, stronger and like the real Blessing Okagbare again. I am really happy that this time came down today, it will boost my confidence, my faith and trust in God. I just hope this same thing happens at the Olympics,” she said.

“I have been working on everything and I hope it counts at the big stage, that’s the Olympics. I was very disappointed at my last meet when I ran 11.2, I was like this is not me, so when they mentioned the trials, I said I am going to be there, not because I just want to run, but because I really want to compete and run well. But above all, I am healthier and when you have good health, the confidence will be there, and I am hoping for the best in Tokyo.

“I have to go to the Olympics, do better than I did, or better still replicate it, you might not need to run like this to win the Olympics, at the Games you just want to get to the finishing line.”

In the men’s category, with the absence of US-based Divine Oduduru and Raymond Ekevwo, the fans were looking up to the Edo 2020 Festival duo of Alaba Akintola and rave of the moment, Enoch Adegoke to win the trials.

Akintola however picked up an injury in the semis leaving Adegoke who raced home in a new 10.00 seconds personal best and also confirmed his place in Team Nigeria’s flight to the Olympics in Tokyo.

Adegoke thought he had made the 10.05 seconds entry standard in the semi-final but he was just one-hundredth of a second off the time as he was timed 10.06 seconds.

Blessing Okagbare Set To Make New Records At Commonwealth Games

Blessing Okagbare’s quest to successfully defend her Commonwealth Games 100 and 200 metres sprint titles and make new records will be boosted by her new African record over the longer distance.

Last month, the Nigerian shattered compatriot Mary Onyali’s 22-year-old mark of 22.07secs when she ran 22.04secs in Texas, the fastest time in the world this year.

It could provide a psychological edge for Okagbare, who is coming off an injury-hit 2017 and will face Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica in the 200m in Gold Coast.

Onyali set the African record in Zurich in 1996, and the closest anyone had came to breaking it was when Marie Ta-Lou of the Ivory Coast ran 22.08secs in 2017.

Onyali said she was delighted it was her “daughter and sister” Okagbare who lowered her record.

“This will put her in the right frame of mind for the Commonwealth Games,” Onyali said. “She has been knocking for some years now and finally she has got it.

“For some time now she has not been in her right element, especially at the last world championships. But she went back, trained very hard and we can see the result of her perseverance.”

Okagbare has for many years now been Nigeria’s biggest medal hope at major athletics competitions, and winning the sprint double in Glasgow four years ago was a career highlight.

At the last Commonwealth Games, she won the 100m in a Games-record 10.85, and the 200m in 22.25. She also helped Nigeria win silver in the 4x100m relay with a time of 42.92.

Okagbare has an Olympic bronze in the long jump from Beijing 2008 and took 200m bronze at the 2013 world championships.

She has often struggled with her start, especially in the 100m, but if she gets that right, she should be among the medals.

The sprinter, who is married to a former Nigeria football star, will be 30 in October and has bounced back this season after her injury problems last year.

AFP

IAAF Championships: Okagbare Qualifies For long Jump Final

Blessing Okagbare (File photo)

Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare has qualified for the final of the long jump event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London.

Okagbare leaped 6.51 metres today to place second in her group behind Britain’s Lorraine Ugen who posted 6.63 metres.

However, Commonwealth Champion Ese Brume failed to meet the qualification standard with a jump of 6.38 metres.

IAAF Championships: Okagbare Advances, Nathaniel, Enekwechi Crash Out

Nigerian Sprinter, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguanor has qualified for the semi-finals of the women’s 100 metres event at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in London.

The Commonwealth champion recovered from a bad start to finish the race in 11.22 seconds behind America’s Tori Bowie who ended the race comfortably in 11.05 seconds.

The Nigerian champion has been drawn in the third semifinal Race at the London event and she will have to overcome Ivorian and current African record holder, Muriel Ahoure and the impressive Marie-Jose Ta Lou as well as the hugely talented Tori Bowie of the USA.

Okagbare-Ighoeguanor, drawn in lane 5 will also have to consider the quality of Trinidad and Tobago sprinter, Michelle-Lee Ahye and Britain’s Asha Philips.

The Nigerian will hope to secure one of the two automatic qualifying slots for the final or post a good result to qualify as one of the two fastest losers.

Meanwhile shot putter Enekwechi Chukwuebuka failed to make history in the event as the first Nigerian to compete in the final of the event in the championships as his 19.72m effort was not good enough to throw him into the final.

In the 400 metres event, Samson Nathaniel ran 46.63 seconds to finish fifth in his opening round heat and subsequently crashed out. Same as two full laps runner, Edosie Ibadin whose impressive 1:46.61 run could secure qualification into the final.

 Read Also: IAAF Clears Edosie, Egwin To Compete For Nigeria

AFN Names Okagbare, 11 Others For IAAF World Championships

Blessing Okagbare

Sprinter Blessing Okagbare and sprint hurdler Tobiloba Amusan will lead Nigeria’s team of 12 Athletes to the 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in London, England, from August 4th to 13th.

Okagbare will be making her fourth competitive appearance at the event while Amusan will be making her debut.

Others listed are reigning Commonwealth long jump queen Ese Brume, Glory Nathaniel, Emerald Egwin, Abike Egbeniyi as well as the Quartermile trio of Patience Okon-George, Yinka Ajayi and Margaret Bamgbose.

For the men, Samson Nathaniel, Chukwuebuka Enekwachi and Edose Ibadin will also be making their first appearance at the Championships.

Nigeria have won a total of eight medals in the championships made up of four silver medals (Innocent Egbunike in the 400m in 1987; the 4x100m men in 1997; Glory Alozie in the 100m Hurdles in 1999, and Blessing Okagbare in the long jump in 2013), and four bronze medals (Ajayi Agbebaku in the Triple Jump in 1983; the men’s 4x400m team in 1995; Francis Obikwelu in the 200m in 1999 and Blessing Okagbare in the 200m in 2013).

Read Also: Okagbare Hopes To Build On Season’s Best

Okagbare Hopes To Build On Season’s Best

Blessing Okagbare is hoping to build on her season best in the next Diamond League race in Rabat, Morocco.

Okagbare ran a season best of 10.99 seconds to finish third in the 100 metres event in London on Sunday.

It is the first time the Olympic medallist is running “A sub 11” since 2015.

With 25 days to the commencement of the World Championships, Okagbare wants to focus on the race in Rabat and so will miss out of the National Championships in Abuja this week.

Read Also: Okagbare Qualifies For 2017 World Athletics Championships

Okagbare Qualifies For 2017 World Athletics Championships

Blessing Okagbare has qualified for the London 2017 World Athletics Championships after jumping 6.77m to finish second at the Hungarian Memorial Athletics Grand Prix.

The University of Texas graduate has now exceeded the 6.75m mark set by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) for the championships.

The 2008 Olympics bronze medallist came to Hungary with a 6.52m personal season’s best achieved in the United States, last month.

She has already secured qualification in the 100m and 200m races for the World Athletics Championships.

Read Also: Okagbare Misses IAAF World’s Long Jump

Okagbare Misses IAAF World’s Long Jump

Reigning Nigeria sprint queen, Blessing Okagbare, leaped 6.48m at the Oslo Diamond League meeting to seventh place in the final classification.

The former African 100m record holder failed to hit the 6.75m qualification standard in the long jump set for the 2017 IAAF world championships scheduled for August in London.

She faces the possibility of missing the long jump event of the world championships if she failed to meet the standards before July 23.

The University of Texas graduate will, however, be consoled by the fact that she has already raced past the 100m mark of 11.26 seconds and 200m mark of 23.10 seconds qualification standards to qualify for those events.