By Femi Solaja
Nigeria’s queen of the track, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor has expressed her displeasure to the low turn out of crowd at the Athletics event of the 19th National Sports Festival (NSF) in Abuja.
The sprint specialist and Olympic and Commonwealth medalist for Nigeria has been watching with keen interest the track and field events of the games and observed that the empty stand since day one of the Athletics events is not a good publicity of the sports even when it’s an open event.
“To the best of my knowledge the athletes have done very well and I want to commend all the medalists especially in the track events. But l also want to observe that if the stands had been a bit full, it will add more and perhaps motivate the athletes to do better and will translate to a good public relation stuff to our sport.
“I am not indicting the organisers considering the fact that the programme had suffered endless postponements and it’s a good thing that we are enjoying it now.
“I recalled at 2004 festival here in Abuja and my second appearance at Ogun 2006 the ambient at the stadium was astonishing and a great motivating factor that brought some of us to national limelight we are today.
“It will be a good thing if all the potentials discovered here are are nurtured to greater height instead of leaving them to their respective State government to lie idle and lose the steams in them,” remarked the 30 year-old sprinter.
On why she failed to participate in the events in spite of the fact that it’s an open contest, the athlete, whose personal best in 100 meters stands at 10.79 secs in 2013 and 200 meters at 22:04 this year said she would had wished to perform before her numerous fans but as a programme athlete, the up coming events on the global stage will not give room for that and that she hopes to come back and burn the tracks at the next available opportunity.
“I would had loved to run at list motivate most of the athletes in the sprint events but I have to guid my Calendar very well with the World Cup and Golden league that will soon commence, there is the need to follow my programme and ensure that nothing go wrong with it,” she remarked.
Meanwhile, Samuel Kure Kure of Delta State set a new festival record in javelin men final with 70:24 meters to win the gold just as Arinze Chude of Anambra State won silver in 67:72 m throw and Kenechukwu Chijoke Edeefor of Rivers State came third with 66:16 meters.
Also in Hammer throw, emerged at a festival record by Chukwuebuka Connel who attained 65:22 metres to win gold in the men event. Ibrahim Baba of Rivers State was second with 51:72 meters and Enahoro Dauda from Oyo State placed third with44:72 meters.
In the chess event, the trio of Oyo, Delta and Bayelsa states are still dominating in the male event as at seventh round with 10 points each but the last two rounds which comes up today will determine the medal status just as Lagos, Edo and Ogun state are also in the run for the final round of the nine-round Swiss event pairing tournament.
In the female section, Oyo, Edo, Lagos, Bayelsa and Delta states are dominating proceedings after seven round and the final rounds are coming up today with the medal presentation in the evening.