The attention of Nigerian fans will from today turn to Rio’s Maracana stadium as athletics events of the Olympic Games start, with Blessing Okagbare hunting for an elusive women’s 100m medal. Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare Okagbare, who earlier this week joined the rest of Team Nigerian contingent at the Games Village is set to begin with the 100m heats, with fans back at home hoping for the best from her this time around. Okagbare, who was spotted by this reporter sharing jokes with her compatriots in the sprawling Games Village, housing all athletes and officials of Rio 2016, beamed with smiles, walking majestically, returning greetings as she soaked in the fun of mingling with other athletes. After the star-attention she got when she sauntered into the Games Village, Okagbare would face another round of intense attention as the world waits to see the stunts she would pull on the track when the 100m dash revs up at the imposing and impressive Maracana Stadium.
The Nigerian leading light is not the only top star who comes under intense focus this weekend, with even more attention being beamed on reigning world and Olympic champion, Shelly Ann-Fraser-Pryce, bidding for an unprecedented third back-to-back 100m gold at the Olympics. At the last Olympics in London some four years ago, Fraser-Pryce beat a star-studded field including Okagbare to claim her second Olympic gold in the 100m, following up on her success at the Beijing 2008 Games. Unlike Fraser-Pryce who seems to be getting better at the biggest stage, Okagbare has fallen short of the high standards expected of her as evident at the last two editions of the Games but credit to her for remarkably claiming a bronze in the women’s long jump at the Beijing Games. Another Nigerian hopeful in the sprints dash is Glroria Asumnu, who like Okagbare is yet to win a medal in 100m at the Olympics.
Okagbare is competing for medals in her 100m 20m, Long Jump and 4 x 100m women’s relay events.. The women’s 200m begins on August 15 the long jump starts on August 17 while the women’s 4x100m relay blasts off on August 18, with all eyes from Nigeria bearing down on Okagbare, on whose shoulders rest the country’s hopes of a medal in athletics.