Posted by News Express | 14 September 2013 | 4,284 times
Track queen Blessing Okagbare has declared that her best is come as she is determined to bring more glory to Nigeria. Nigeria’s hottest athlete of the moment made the declaration yesterday in her home state, Delta, in South-South Nigeria, while responding to eulogies showered on her during a reception organised by the state government to honour her. Blessing had wiped out Nigeria’s tears at the last month’s 2013 World Athletics Championship in Moscow, Russia, with a silver medal in long jump and bronze in the 200 metres race.
“My career has grown from good to better but my best is yet to come,” said Africa’s
fastest woman who is eyeing gold at the Brazil 2016 Olympics.
She thanked Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for playing important roles in her success story and for honouring her.
Miss Okagbare appealed to the federal and state governments to support athletes by developing sports through funding and proper management, explaining that “proper and adequate funding especially training grants to athletes will make them prepare properly for competitions and improve their performance.”
She said that money spent on sports especially to support the training and preparation of athletes in track and field would determine the amount of laurels the country wins in competitions.
Speaking during the state reception held in Asaba, the state capital, Governor Dr. Uduaghan had announced a yearly training grant of 120,000 dollars (about 19 million naira) for three years to Miss Okagbare to support her preparation for the Brazil 2016 Olympics so as to reduce the distractions that may be caused by the number of competitions she would partake in before the Games.
Dr. Uduaghan also announced a cash gift of 2.5 million naira to Miss Okagbare, 2 million naira each to Mr. Daniel Etsebiminor, the local coach that discovered her, and Mr. Gabriel Okon, her Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) coach, as well as 20,000 dollars to Mr. John Smith, her international coach.
In addition, the Governor appointed Miss Okagbare the Youth Ambassador for the state, gave her a parcel of land in Asaba and announced the naming of a stadium in the state after her.
The governor thanked President Goodluck Jonathan for the honour done to Miss Okagbare and commended the team that have managed her thus far, especially the local coach, Mr. Danie Etsebiminor, who discovered her.
He appealed to politicians not to distract Miss Okagbare as she prepares for the 2016 Olympics, advising those who desire to appreciate her to do so quietly without politicising her in order to insulate her for the set goal of gold medals at the 2016 Olympics.
“All support for Blessing should be done privately and quietly; we should insulate her from politics. She is a role model; she is not a political model,” Governor Uduaghan said, adding that Okagbare is “a pride to Nigeria and a pride to us in Delta State. Her feat has shown that youths in the state have enormous potentials for greatness which if harnessed positively will bring great successes and positive changes to the state and the nation.”
Dr. Uduaghan also commended other young athletes from the state that have won laurels in different competitions, especially the last African Junior Athletics Competitions in Malawi, promising to honour them at a different date.
He also charged the State Sports Commission to identify four young potential athletes capable of winning medals that would be nurtured and groomed to represent the state and country at the 2016 Olympics Games in Brazil, promising to give them training grants for their preparations and exposure to international training facilities.
The governor assured that his administration is not only interested in discovering athletes but also in ensuring that such athletes get the necessary support to win laurels.
In his remarks, the President of the AFN, Chief Solomon Ogba, thanked the Delta State Government for encouraging field and track development in the country, stating that Delta is champion in sporting activities in the country.
While noting that Governor Uduaghan’s passion for sports could be traced to his being an athlete, Evangelist Ogba stated that Okagbare has placed Nigeria in the 19th position in world ranking.
News Express reports that President Jonathan had honoured Miss Okagbare two days earlier during a reception for her at State House, Abuja.
•Photo (L-R): AFN President, Chief Solomon Ogba; Deputy Governor, Prof. Amos Utuama; Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan; Miss Blessing Okagbare; and Delta Speaker, Rt. Hon. Victor Ochie, during the State Reception in Okagbare’s honour . . . yesterday in Asaba.
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