By Kemi Ajayi
Fans at ongoing 21st Africa Athletics Senior Championships in Delta State tagged “Asaba 2018”, have expressed disappointment over the withdrawal of Blessing Okagbare from the 100m and 200m events.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Okagbare, the African 200 metres record-holder, was not on the starting list of the two events.
Onome Moses, a civil servant, said she was unhappy when she got the news about Okagbare decision to pull out of the two events.
“I am not criticising her for pulling out of her events but a lot of people are unhappy about the decision.
“I would have loved to see her do her thing on the tracks here before her home crowd,” she said.
Azino Ogaga, a teacher from Warri, said he was not surprised about Okagbare’s decision to pull out from the event.
Ogaga said the 2008 Beijing Olympic bronze medallist had not been impressive since the beginning of the season.
“I have been monitoring her performance since the beginning of the year in various IAAF events this year and she had performed below average.
“I believe this may have influenced her decision to pull out, in order not to disappoint her home fans,’’ Ogaga said.
Also, a businessman, Douglass Itaborunu, told NAN that the athlete shouldn’t have pulled out of the championship, knowing that her fans would be disappointed.
“I don’t know if she is nursing any injury but her decision to quit is a bad one because Deltans are solidly behind her.
“Even if she didn’t win any medal, we will still cheer her because she is our girl,” he said.
Faith Chima, a civil servant, told NAN that Okagbare should not be criticised for pulling out of the events.
Chima said the athlete had paid her dues in the sport, urging people to respect her decision.
“Immediately the news about Okagbare filtered into the stadium on Wednesday, people started saying all sorts of unpleasant things about her.
“Instead of all the criticisms, she should be supported,” he said.
NAN reports that the athlete was inducted into the Confederation of African Athletics Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
The five-day championships will end on Aug. 5.
By Kemi Ajayi