Friday, 12 August 2016

Bolt, Fraser-Pryce, Okagbare set as athletics begins

The Olympic track and field competition begins on Friday with all eyes on Jamican sprint sensation Usain Bolt.                 

And  Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will attempt to complete an unprecedented hat-trick of Olympic gold in the woman’s 100m. Tori Bowie, who  posted the United States’  fastest times in  100 and 200m, is another favourite for the sprint titles.

Africa’s fastest woman  Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure (10.78) is expected to pose a major challenge for Fraser-Pryce and Bowie in the  sprint double – along with Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare.

Okagbare, who won gold in the 100m and 200m at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow  two years ago, will represent Nigeria in the women’s sprint double and 4x100m relay, as well as long jump.

The  27-year-old Sapele-born  multi-talented athlete will look to climb onto the medal table in Rio after missing out on medals in all her events at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Okagbare, who won bronze in long at the  Beijing 2008 olympics,  ran 11.01 to come last the women’s 100m final of London 2012. Ann Fraser-Pryce won the title  with a time of 10.75.

United States’ Carmelita Jeter ran 10.78 to take silver while veteran Jamaican sprinter Veronica Campbell-Brown picked bronze with 10.81.

Nigeria will feature athletes in the  men/women’s 100m and 200m, men’s 110m hurdles, women’s 100m hurdles, men/women 400m hurdles,  women’s long, women’s high jump, women’s discuss and  men/women shot put.

Others are men’s triple jump,  women’s heptathlon and  women’s 4x100m.

Nigeria will be represented in the women’s 100m by Okagbare, Gloria Asumnu and Peace Uko.

National champion Seye Ogunlewe will represent Nigeria  in the men’s 100m alongside Divine Oduduru and  Ogho-Oghene Egwero. Tosin Oke will feature in the men’s triple jump while will take part in the women’s high jump.

 Ten days of competition in Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Stadium get under way with officials keen to draw a line under a miserable 12 months which has left the athletics’ image languishing at an all-time low, according to AFP.

As ever, it will be left to track and field’s greatest showman, Bolt, to restore the feel-good factor as the sport attempts to turn the page on the Russian doping scandal and corruption allegations.

In his last Olympics, Jamaican star Bolt is gunning for 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay gold after sweeping the titles in 2008 and 2012.

The first leg of Bolt’s “Treble Treble” quest gets under way on Saturday, with the opening heats of the 100m before the final on Sunday.

“As a young kid you grow up looking forward to the big games,” Bolt told AFP. “Championships are what matters. This is what I do.”