By Oluyemi Ogunseyin
The dream of Blessing Okagbare to win at least one medal for Team Nigeria at the 2020 Olympic Games currently going on in the city of Tokyo, Japan is now dead and buried.
And that is simply because Okagbare who is Nigeria’s queen of track and field has been slammed with a provisional suspension by the The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).
The AIU has provisionally suspended Okagbare with immediate effect and automatic alacrity after a sample collected from the sprinter tested positive for human Growth Hormone.
And as a result of her indefinite suspension, Nigeria’s track queen will no longer compete at Tokyo 2020 where she was scheduled to run in the women’s 100m semi-finals today.
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 collected the sample from 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 on Friday, 30 July.
The athlete was notified of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional suspension Saturday morning in Tokyo. She was scheduled to participate in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m Saturday evening.
The AIU says it will make no further comment on this matter at this time but this development is a major blow for Nigerians who had high hopes that Okagbare was going to win an Olympic medal in Tokyo, Japan.
Okagbare has an excellent pedigree, having won medals in the 200m and long jump at the world championships and an Olympic silver medal in 2008.
She was due to line up alongside Asher-Smith in the semi-finals, having won her heat in a time of 11.05m but will not be on the start line.
Okagbare had in a grand performance qualified for the semi-finals in the women’s 100m at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games on Friday morning.
The Sapele, Delta State-born athlete who was born on 10 September, 1988 and competing at her fourth Olympics won heat 6 with a time of 11.05.
This is Okagbare’s third consecutive Olympics semi-final and the fourth appearance in the Olympics with the 32-year-old eager to win a medal.
Meanwhile, Okagbare also holds the Women’s 100 meters Commonwealth Games record for the fastest time at 10.85 seconds.
Her 100m best of 10.79 made her the African record holder for the event until it was eclipsed by Murielle Ahouré in 2016.
On June 17, 2021, Okagbare ran a wind-aided 10.63 100m. She is the current African record holder in the 200m with her run of 22.04 seconds in 2018.
She was the African 100m and long jump champion in 2010. She has also won medals at the All-Africa Games, IAAF Continental Cup and World Relays.
By Oluyemi Ogunseyin