Former Nigerian track and field athlete, Falilat Ogunkoya has come to the defence of Blessing Okagbare who lost a chance to secure a medal for Nigerians in the 100m event of the on-going African Games in Morocco due to a false start.
After the incidence, Nigerians on twitter page said Blessing deliberately caused a false start as sign to protest government ‘poor’ treatment of athletes.
However, the former track and field athlete in an interview with the Guardian quickly debunked those claims, saying Blessing Okagbare didn’t beat the gun.
She said: “I spoke with her (Okagbare) shortly after the race, and she was in a sober mood. She actually wanted to win the 100m race, and one could see it in her reactions after the disqualification.”
“She skipped some Diamond Golden Leagues in Europe to prepare for this African Games. Okagbare was here preparing while Cote d’Ivoire’s Marie Ta Lou was running in the Diamond League. To beat the gun deliberately means Okagbare sabotaged herself, and I don’t want to believe that.”
The former athlete, Falilat added that the African games has also suffered other wrong starts, as Tuesday saw two athletes disqualified at the same time during the men’s 110m hurdles.
“I don’t really know what the problem is with the starters here. I want Nigerians not to crucify Okagbare for what happened in the 100m race,” she said.