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Onyali: I have nothing against Okagbare

Former African sprints queen and record holder, Mary Onyali  has called on Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor to continue to work harder to improve her time in the women’s 200m.


Onyali countered insinuations in some quarters that there was a rift with Okagbare, whom she has congratulated for breaking her Africa record in the 200m after 22 years.

“I am excited and fulfilled to see a record that I made years ago broken. I congratulate her,” Onyali-said on Monday. “I have always known that she will break the record, since I have been monitoring her performance.

 “Where the record is right now is not safe. Okagbare needs to drop it down to 21 seconds.
Okagbare who would be competing only in the 4x100m relay at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia set a Africa record on March 25 in the women’s 200m event of the Wes Kittley Invitational, Abilene Christian University, Texas, US.  She ran a time of 22.04 seconds to erase Onyali-Omagbemi’s 22.07 seconds record set at the Wetklasse Grand Prix in Zurich, Switzerland 22 years ago.
“I was thinking that for Okagbare to have broken the record, she needed to run at least 21 secs where it will be a little bit hard for anybody else to touch it.  “I want her to work harder to bring it lower, because it was 22.07, and an Ivorian athlete at the last World Championship came close to it with 22.08   “For Okagbare-Ighoteguonor to have done 22.04, it is still within the range of the Ivorian girl.  “The season is just beginning and it is going to be interesting to see who will eventually clinch it at the end of the season.”
The Olympian was however not happy that her record had to wait for 22 years to be broken. According to her it was not a good sign for athletics in Nigeria and Africa.   “The state of athletics in the country should be a cause for concern for stakeholders in the sports industry,” she said. “The development of sports in Nigeria is part of the things that brought me back to the country   “I have been working hard to see how athletics will be reintroduced in primary schools.  Onyali-Omagbemi won the bronze medal in the 4×100m relay at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain and 200m at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta in the US.
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