Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

30 July 2014

Nigeria: A Blessing in Disguise - Okagbare's Journey to Commonwealth Gold

analysis

Blessing Okagbare, who stormed to gold in the Commonwealth Games 100 metres on Monday, only took up sprinting in 2009. She is one of many West African sprinters who are clear evidence that the sporting talent in the region needs to be looked after better.

Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare stormed to Commonwealth gold in the women's 100 metres with a time of 10.85 seconds on Monday night. It was a great change from the 2012 London Olympics when the 25-year old finished stone-last. In her Commonwealth race she was dominant and powerful, completely obliterating her opposition. And the best part is, sprinting isn't even her first sport.

It's something that has been a long time coming. Last year in August, Okagbare made history when she became the first ever African female sprinter to win a medal at the World Athletics Championships. For the uninitiated, it's something that challenges the usual perceptions of African athletes. Usually, African athletes are associated with long distance running.

Thousands of articles have been written to try and theorise what makes East African runners so good and so dominant. The continent has delivered some of the finest long-distance runners of our generation, but Okagbare...

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