By Morakinyo Abodunrin
Former quarter miller and Olympian, Fatimat Yusuf-Olukoju has condemned the choice of wrestler Odunayo Adekuoroye as Nigeria’s flag bearer for Friday’s opening ceremony of the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, adding no Team Nigeria athlete is deserving of such responsibility than Blessing Okagbare.
Fatimat, the first African woman to run under 50 secs in the 400 meters with her 49.43 secs effort at the 1995 African Championship, said Okagbare has the best credentials among the athletes in Tokyo,saying both the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) as well as the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) should have pushed for the choice of Okagbare based on her past performances in the colours of the country.”
Is Blessing not deserving enough or worthy to be the Nigerian flag bearer at the Tokyo Olympics after all she has achieved for Nigeria in athletics?” queried Fatimat who won the 4 x 400 metres Silver medal along with Bisi Afolabi, Charity Opara and Falilat Ogunkoya at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. “We all need to start asking our leaders and those that arrived at this decision questions.”
Do they not know all her (Okagbare)achievements in the field of athletics over the years? l wonder what criteria was used to have ignored her for the role as the country’s flag bearer.”
The Us-based former African record holder was of the opinion that the decision not to consider Blessing is an indication that government officials and sports administrators are not introspect when arriving at some of their decisions.
“I want to state clearly that I’m not being sentimental but just stating the obvious,” she affirmed. “Blessing should have been given the honour at the twilight of her career since this appears to be her last Olympics.
“Giving her the role of the flag bearer would have brought smiles to her face, a way of saying ‘thank you and good bye’.
“Not giving her this particular role I not the best way to treat your heroes, surely, Blessing deserves a better treatment,” Fatimat noted.