Nigerian track and field star, Blessing Okagbare said her main focus in the next two years will be on winning an Olympic gold. She insisted that all her achievements in athletics so far will amount to nothing, if she fails to win gold at the 2016 Olympics in Rio Brazil.
The best she has ever had in two Olympic appearances was a long jump bronze in Beijing 2008. The London 2012 Olympics is a pain that Okabgare wished will vamoose from her memory as she came short of glory in face of high expectations.
But at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland Okagbare painted a picture of what to expect in the world championships next year in Beijing, China and also the 2016 Olympics when she won a sprint double. This is even as her staunchest rival Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce was absent, but Okagbare proved that she could cope with the best in the world by beating veteran Veronica Campbell Brown and Kerron Stewart in the 100m and 200m.
“Certainly, the next two years are going to be tough. Really tough and I want to do great things.
“For me it is not just about going out there to compete for a medal. I want to win an individual Olympic gold. It is good for your resume, it is good for your career and it is good for your future. This is what I am looking towards to in the next two years.
“I just want to get myself ready. And as long as the good Lord is giving me strength to go on, I will go for it and I know it is going to be a lot of work,” Okabgare said.
Of course, the world is hers for the taking only if she can remain consistent. Having competed with the best in the world and on several occasions beaten the likes of Fraser-Pryce, Allyson Felix, Muriel Ahoure, Okagbare is a sure candidate for the gold at the world championship and the 2016 Olympics.
After stealing the show at the Commonwealth Games, her coach John Smith reckoned that Okagbare have all it takes to become a world beater and that coming from a man who had coached several Olympic champions is a testimony that she is up to the task. But what about the distractions of a defectively organized set up such as the Athletics Federation of Nigeria and the unfriendly environment Nigerian athletes operate? In addition, the wedding bells are ringing for the golden girl of Nigerian athletics. And one call of nature can change everything.
“I usually don’t wait for Nigeria to get me going. I do things on my own and when they are ready I just get along.
“And I am totally focused on my training. I know when to have fun and I know when to train. I can go on the whole season without having fun.”
Okagbare really need to focus and train, if she ever wants to outlive the fierce competition in the world sprints. The USA and the Caribbean nations have tons of talents and in the next two years there are bound to be new faces other than those of Fraser-Pryce, Felix, and Carmelita Jeter most Nigerians have seen compete with Okabgbare.
This season women like Tori Bowie of the USA, Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago have shown with their performances that they could be world beaters in the years to come.
However, Okagbare knows more about the challenge ahead and has rightly set her mind on going the whole hog. For her to beat the rest she has to do more than the 10.79 in the 100m, 22.23 in the 200m and the 7.00m in the long jump.
She also needs to concentrate on either the sprint or the long jump, which of course is her traditional event. Whichever she chooses, it will not be a cheap shot and as African record holder in the 400m rightly advised, Okagbare has to manage herself very well on the road to 2016.