Archive | August, 2014

Okagbare rues missed chance in 100m Diamond League Final, seeks redemption in 200m!

30 Aug Okagbare 4
The absence of world leader and major contender for the jackpot in the women’s 100m, Tori Bowie at the Zurich leg of the IAAF Diamond League, was meant to be a blessing in disguise (no pun intended) for Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, but it was Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown who stole the show at the end of the day as she coasted home in 11.04s, to win the $50,000 at stake.

Murielle Ahouré was a close second (also in 11.04s), while Okagbare posted 11.06s in third place in the first series of finals for the Diamond League, which ends with a second series of finals on September 5th in Brussels, where she will be going for the 200m, and where 15 other events would be decided.

Bowie pulled out of the Zurich 100m due to injury she sustained in the Birmingham leg of the meet, which made Zurich a winner takes all affair as anyone who won it could have taken home the 100m Diamond Race crown. Prior to the race, Okagbare occupied 6th place in the 100m standings, and victory in Zurich would have handed her the top prize as long as Kerron Stewart, who occupied 2nd place in the Race with 7 points, did not finish as the runner-up; the Jamaican finished a distant fifth in 11.19s and Blessing would no doubt be ruing her lost chance. A win in the final would have been the African & Commonwealth Champion’s first ever in the Diamond League series.

Okagbare has run more 200m races than 100 this year, as the race in Zurich was only her fourth in the Diamond League. However, she was sensational in the Commonwealth where she claimed the sprint double with a Championship Record (CR) of 10.85s in the 100m, and 22.25s in the 200m. Even though she confessed in Marrakech, venue of the African Senior Championships, that she was already tired and hoping to bring her season to an end in Brussels, she will be hoping to bounce back to take the 200m in Brussels, where she is a top contender for the prize, currently in second place with 11 points, behind Allyson Felix who reached 13 points following the Nigerian’s absence in Stockholm a little over a week ago.

Not only would she have Felix to deal with in Brussels, but also Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands who recently posted a National Record (NR) and world leading time of 22.03s at the European Championships!

Okagbare could win $50,000 with Zurich Diamond League VICTORY, while Usain Bolt ends his 2014 season early!

28 Aug Blessing Okagbare in London

Next stop…Zurich. Fans of Nigeria’s No.1 sprinting sensation, Blessing Okagbare will have to wait no more as the athlete resumes action at the IAAF Diamond League on Thursday, August 28 in Zurich, Switzerland where she will compete in the 100m in a STACKED field that includes Veronica Campbell-Brown (SB 10.86s), Murielle Ahouré (10.97s) and Allyson Felix (11.01s) amongst others.

Okagbare took a break from the prestigious series to compete in her first Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (July 23 to August 3) where she claimed the 100/200m sprint double. In the 100m, she breasted the tape in the 100m with a Season’s Best (SB) and Championship Record (CR) of 10.85s, denying former world champion, Campbell-Brown a much sought after victory in the event. The Jamaican is yet to win an individual title at the Commonwealth Games, having won two silver medals in the 100m (2002 and 2014) and another in the 200m (2006).

The Nigerian maintained her stellar performance this season by reclaiming her African title in the 100m at the African Senior Championships in Marrakech where she stormed to the crown with a CR of 11.00s flat, also denying fierce rival, Ahouré of Cote d’Ivoire her first African title in the event. Okagbare however pulled out of the 200m, which Ahouré dominated easily with a time of 22.36s.

Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands will be looking to go under 11 seconds for the first time. The Dutchwoman sneaked in a win in the 200m at the Glasgow leg of the series where she stunned Felix (22.35s) and Okagbare (22.41s) to win the title with a National Record (NR) of 22.34s – she has since lowered the Dutch NR to a world leading 22.03s this season at the European Championships! Her 100m PB of 11.03s set in the B race of the Glasgow Diamond League 100m is also a National Record – not bad for a heptathlete! 

This race is only Okagbare’s fourth 100m in the Diamond League this year, and she is yet to secure a victory in the event. She finished second behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the very first meeting in Doha, but didn’t finish her race in Lausanne after she slipped. She placed fourth in Monaco behind Bowie, Campbell-Brown and Ahoure. She occupies a distant sixth place in the standings with just 2 Diamond League points while Tori Bowie sits at the top with 12 points. However Bowie, who has the world leading time of 10.80s this season, will be the only big name missing. She has had to withdraw after pulling up injured in the 100m in the Birmingham Diamond League meet at the weekend.    

The most fascinating aspect of the IAAF Diamond League, are the double points awarded in the final race of each event, with 16 Diamond Races being decided in Zurich, and the final 16 being decided in Brussels next week! This annual twist in events adds to the excitement of the final races, as an athlete currently ranking in third or fourth place, could change their fortunes just by winning the final race. So while a few races are practically over, in many other races, the athletes will battle till the very last second or centimetre!

The rules also state that one must compete in the final race of their event to win the Diamond Race crown, so despite having amassed a near unassailable lead, Bowie’s absence blows the 200m Diamond Race right open, and means that in a dramatic twist of fate, Okagbare could win her FIRST ever Diamond League crown with a WIN, so long as Kerron Stewart, who currently occupies 2nd place in the Race with 7 points, does not finish as the runner-up in Zurich! 

Standings before FINAL race (Zurich). Diamond League competitors get 4 points for a win,  2 points for 2nd place, and 1 point for 3rd, but these points are DOUBLED for the final race!

Standings before FINAL race (Zurich). Diamond League competitors get 4 points for a win,
2 points for 2nd place, and 1 point for 3rd, but these points are DOUBLED for the final race!

1st place in each Diamond League event takes home $10,000 and the overall winner for the Diamond Race in each event each season takes home $40,000. This means that a $50,000 windfall is at stake for Blessing and her rivals in Zurich – every single woman in the race has a mathematical chance of taking home the 200m Diamond Race Crown!

Meanwhile, $50,000 is small change for the likes of Usain Bolt, so he does not compete regularly in the Diamond League, instead prioritising meets that can afford the appearance fees he commands – anywhere from $250,000 per race, up to $500,000 which he received for the London Anniversary Games last year! He has pulled out of the Zurich meet, bringing an early end to his 2014 campaign. Zurich was meant to be the last competition for the Jamaican multiple world and Olympic champion, who clocked 9.98s in Warsaw on Saturday night to set an unofficial 100m indoor record, previously held by Frankie Fredericks in 10.05s – the 100m is never run indoors, but prior to the race Bolt cheekily asked for the stadium roof to be closed to claim the unofficial record! 

It was only Bolt’s second individual and fourth race of an injury-hampered season. His other two outings were at the Commonwealth Games where he made his debut by anchoring the 4x100m team to gold with a CR of 37.58s. It would have been fun to watch Bolt re-ignite his rivalry with former world champion, Tyson Gay (9.93s) of the US who would be attempting the sprint double in Zurich. Nevertheless, the 100m still promises to be exciting, as Gay’s fellow returnee Asafa Powell, who returned a stunning SB of 9.87s a few days ago in Austin, and newly crowned European 100m & 200m Champions, James Dasaolu and Adam Gemili will also be on show!

The Zurich Diamond League will be shown LIVE on SuperSports 2 from 7-9pm on Thursday, with Blessing’s 100m race at 7.59pm SHARP! YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS!

Blessing Okagbare EXCLUSIVE Part III – On the Olympic Treble & On Reviving Nigerian Athletics!

24 Aug IMG_0492 copy Blessing 100m African Crown

BLESSING OKAGBARE, recently crowned Commonwealth 100m & 200m Champion and African 100m Champion & Record Holder, speaks EXCLUSIVELY to MAKING OF CHAMPIONS on her career, personal life and on Nigerian Athletics! In this FINAL part of the 3-part interview series recorded in Morocco during the African Championships, she speaks on the possibility of attempting an Olympic treble, and shares her thoughts on what it would take to revive Athletics in Nigeria!

So is the Long Jump still your favourite event?

Yes, it is!

What are the chances that you will combine all 3 events – the 100m, 200m and Long Jump at the next World Champs and Olympics?

I will say 70/30 because the schedule is always off, and the long jump exerts more strength on your body, that’s the truth. I worked really really hard but there is something about this whole body. Your mental state can be fine but when the body has shut down, it has shut down. There is nothing you can do than give it the rest that it deserves. I don’t know if the schedule is going to permit me to attempt the triple that I did last year but I would really want to do it, trust me.

Do you think there is a case for you asking them to make the schedule work in your favour? They did it for Michael Johnson and Carl Lewis in the 90s…

They did, so we’ll see how it goes. It’s all politics! (she  laughs) 

How do you feel about Nigerian athletics today? There was a time we used to win a lot of medals on the global stage but now it seems like you are our only individual Olympic medal hope. Do you feel the weight of the whole nation on your shoulders?

No, I used to but like I said I put my priorities straight. If the people who are out there can’t do much to support the sport, this is my career. I have so much passion for what I do, I love Track & Field. I want to enjoy every moment of it. At the same time this is where I earn my living and take care of my family and I have to take care of it. I can’t wait for them; I can’t sit down and expect them to want to do something for me, so that is the difference between the people that are succeeding and those that are not. So if you keep waiting for these people, trust me you are going to be way behind.

Do you think that Track & Field in Nigeria can be revived to rival the likes of USA and Jamaica on the world stage?

No, I don’t think so. I’m not cursing them but it’s going to be really hard, it’s going to be extremely hard. Right now they are doing a lot of recruiting versus building on what they have – it doesn’t make any sense to me, you know, it doesn’t.

So how can we make that revolution in Track & Field happen?

I don’t know, a lot of things have been said in the past but it doesn’t look like they are going to change. They will keeping making the same mistakes and the government will keep changing and new people come. Some people who have no clue about sports will sit there as ministers and so on. First of all you need to find someone who has passion for this game, that knows the sport, that knows what it means to break a world record. Some people don’t even know what a world record or African championship record means. You need people who are educated about the sport. That is the way you can get athletes to do the best. Athletes that you are supposed to pay training grants in November, you then give them in April when it’s no longer relevant. They will just use it for shopping. You can’t give me that kind of money now, I will just go to the mall! They are always doing things at the last minute. That is one of the things they need to change because it is not taking us anywhere. It is just slowing us down.

Making Of Champions is working on a plan to start Professional Track Clubs in Nigeria and train athletes to go to the Olympics, giving them access to world class training in Nigeria. Do you think it’s something that could work in Nigeria?

It might be a 50-50 thing. I don’t know how successful it will be.

It worked in Jamaica…..

It depends on the people running this whole thing. If it’s going to work for them, good luck. I would just wish them good luck.

How would you like to give back to Nigeria, and play a role in reviving the sport across the nation?

I’m trying to set up my foundation. I’m still working on that but I have to make sure that I have people that I can actually trust because I don’t really stay in Nigeria, so I need people that I can trust to stand there when you need them. I still have so much going on but I want to give back to my community, my country and fans. I’m setting up my foundation to help young kids coming up in any way I can – probably put them through school, maybe up to college. It will be a great thing so I’m looking forward to that.

So if Making of Champions is able to start this programme to give home-based athletes training right in Nigeria, would you like to support that programme?

It depends! I can’t just put my money into something I have no guarantees will work…

No money involved oh, it’s just for you to mentor the kids…

Okay, yeah, whichever way I can support, of course I will!

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak exclusively to MAKING OF CHAMPIONS – we wish you all the best for the future!

Thank you!

 

If you missed Part I, on Blessing’s CAREER and her chase for more MEDALS and RECORDS, check it out here!

Or Part II, on her MARRIAGE, KIDS, and on finding her voice on Social Media, click here!

Making of Champs is HIRING! Junior Sports Writer..

23 Aug Business-People-Running-a-Track

Making of Champions’ Media has exploded into prominence in 2014, thanks to our live on-location coverage of events such as the World RelaysCommonwealth Games and the African Championships! In barely four months we have amassed 7,500 Facebook fans, 1,000 Twitter  Followers, 200 on Instagram, over 22,500 views on the YouTube Channel and a staggering 50,000 views of this blog!

This growth could not have been possible without a small team of AMAZING sports writers, who have blogged, tweeted and posted furiously on all things Team Nigeria during the 2014 Athletics Season! As we enter a new phase of growth for Making of Champions, we’re looking to add a Junior Sports Writer to the team – a highly driven person who is looking to forge an exciting career as a sports journalist in Nigeria! 

Job Description

  • - Write and publish stories and articles for Making of Champions blog and website
  • - Perform extensive research to aid in the creation of blog/website content
  • - Conduct interviews with athletes and coaches to create written, audio or video content 
  • - Attend and cover Domestic and Continental Athletics meets with Team Nigeria and MoC Athletes, including LIVE Twitter, Facebook and Instagram updates at these events
  • - Also cover other sports outside of Athletics, particularly Football
  • - Report to Senior Sports Writer who also acts as Editor, and attend daily editorial meetings 
  • - Based in Lagos full-time with plenty of travel within Nigeria to cover domestic meets, and some travel within Africa for continental competitions!

Requirements

  • - 1 – 2 years Journalism or Sports Journalism experience, or recent graduate in either field
  • - Bachelor’s Degree in any field. If no prior full-time work experience, then Journalism degree an advantage
  • - If no Journalism degree or full-time experience, has displayed a clear flair and interest in writing and journalism through hobbies, club memberships at university or an existing blog
  • - Maintains excellent writing and language skills and displays ability to effectively communicate information and ideas in written, audio and video format.
  • - Enjoys a working knowledge of the sports blogs and websites in Nigeria and Africa
  • - Deep knowledge of Nigerian Athletics and strong interest in World Athletics are advantages
  • - Prior experience with Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) a plus

Compensation & Other Benefits

  • - Full or Part-time salary negotiable (based on experience)
  • - All expenses paid trips to cover National & Continental Competition. E.g. in 2014/15,
    • o National Sports Festival
    • o Nigerian Golden League
    • o National Championships
    • o African Youth & Junior Championships
    • o African Nation’s Cup (Football)

Application & Deadline

  • - Send your CV and Cover Letter to management@makingofchamps.com, with ‘MoC Junior Sports Writer’ as email subject! The application deadline is Sunday September 7th 2014
  • - Interviews will take place throughout September 2014 in Lagos, or by phone/Skype for applicants in other locations!

Here’s a message from MoC Founder, Bambo Akani, on the launch of this new, exciting phase for Making of Champions – PROJECT RIO!

Making of Champs is HIRING! Senior Sports Writer…

23 Aug Business Lady crossing finish line

Making of Champions’ Media has exploded into prominence in 2014, thanks to our live on-location coverage of events such as the World RelaysCommonwealth Games and the African Championships! In barely four months we have amassed 7,500 Facebook fans, 1,000 Twitter  Followers, 200 on Instagram, over 22,500 views on the YouTube Channel and a staggering 50,000 views of this blog!

This growth could not have been possible without a small team of AMAZING sports writers, who have blogged, tweeted and posted furiously on all things Team Nigeria during the 2014 Athletics Season! As we enter a new phase of growth for Making of Champions, we’re looking to add a Senior Sports Writer to the team – a highly driven and experienced sports journalist who is looking to grow in their career and become an all-round sports media personality in Nigeria and beyond! 

Job Description

  • - Write and publish stories and articles for Making of Champions blog and website
  • - Perform extensive research to aid in the creation of blog/website content
  • - Conduct interviews with athletes and coaches to create written, audio or video content 
  • - Attend and cover Domestic, Continental and International Athletics meets with Team Nigeria and MoC Athletes, including LIVE Twitter, Facebook and Instagram updates at these events
  • - Also cover other sports outside of Athletics, particularly Football
  • - Represent MoC at public events, press conferences and on television as a Sports Analyst
  • - Act as Editor and mentor for Junior Sports Writer who would report to you
  • - Attend weekly editorial meetings with Social Media Manager, who will ensure coordinated creation and sharing of content across all online media platforms
  • - Based in Lagos full-time with plenty of travel within Nigeria to cover domestic meets and travel abroad for both continental and international competitions!

Requirements

  • - 3 – 5 years Journalism or Sports Journalism experience
  • - Bachelor’s Degree in any field
  • - Maintains excellent writing and language skills and displays ability to effectively communicate information and ideas in written, audio and video format.
  • - Enjoys a working knowledge of the sports blogs and websites in Nigeria and Africa
  • - Deep knowledge of Nigerian Athletics and strong interest in World Athletics are advantages
  • - Prior experience with Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) a plus

Compensation & Other Benefits

  • - Full or Part-time salary negotiable (based on experience)
  • - All expenses paid trips to cover National, Continental & International Competitions, including the following in 2014/15
    • o African Nation’s Cup (Morocco)
    • o World Relay Championships (The Bahamas)
    • o World Youth Championships (Colombia)
    • o World Student Games (Korea)
    • o World Championships (China)

Application & Deadline

  • - Send your CV and Cover Letter to management@makingofchamps.com, with ‘MoC Senior Sports Writer’ as email subject! The application deadline is Sunday September 7th 2014
  • - Interviews will take place throughout September 2014 in Lagos, or by phone/Skype for applicants in other locations

Here’s a message from MoC Founder, Bambo Akani, on the launch of this new, exciting phase for Making of Champions – PROJECT RIO!

Making of Champs is HIRING! Social Media Manager…

23 Aug Businesswoman Crossing the Finish Line Ahead of Businessmen

Making of Champions’ Media has exploded into prominence in 2014, thanks to our live on-location coverage of events such as the World Relays, Commonwealth Games and the African Championships! In barely four months we have amassed 7,500 Facebook fans, 1,000 Twitter  Followers, 200 on Instagram, over 22,500 views on the YouTube Channel and a staggering 50,000 views of this blog!

As we enter a new phase of growth for Making of Champions, we’re looking for a Social Media CHAMPION, someone who can come in and streamline our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram growth strategy, and build Making of Champions into an online community that will become the No. 1 online portal for Nigeria Athletics fans all over the world, as we approach the 2015 World Championships and 2016 Olympics!

Job Description

  • - Create and execute MoC’s overall Social Media & Online Strategy, including an advertising-based revenue strategy. 
  • - Oversee and manage growth of MoC Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Blog, ensuring regular updates of each platform, increased fan/follower engagement, and prompt responses to fan/follower feedback
  • - Editor-in-Chief for all MoC Content on our online platforms – will work closely with MoC’s Senior & Junior Sports Writers, Photographers and Film-Makers to ensure quality content and coordinated creation and sharing of all types of content (written, audio, image and video)
  • - Use of Social Networking analysis tools such as TwitterCounter, Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, WordPress Stats, etc to measure traffic activity and gain insights to improve content and traffic
  • - Lead our MEDIA fundraising efforts by interacting with and pitching to potential Nigerian and International Sponsors for Making of Champions Media
  • - Based in Lagos full-time is strong preference, but other locations are negotiable!

Requirements

  • - 2 – 3 years Marketing or Social Media experience. Prior experience in Nigeria an advantage!
  • - In-depth knowledge and understanding of Social Media platforms (particularly Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram) and how each can be deployed in different scenarios
  • - Prior experience sourcing and managing content development and publishing
  • - Previous experience in building online communities and in monetising online traffic an advantage
  • - Bachelor’s Degree in any field. Marketing related degree a plus, but not required with relevant work experience (as outlined above)
  • - Enjoys a working knowledge of the sports blogs and websites in Nigeria and Africa
  • - Deep knowledge of Nigerian Athletics and strong interest in World Athletics 
  • - Commercially astute with proven experience of working at a strategic level and of preparing and managing budgets and other financial reports.
  • - A ‘never say die, won’t give up’ attitude – it’s a SPORTS start-up, in NIGERIA! 

Compensation & Other Benefits

  • - Full-time salary negotiable (based on experience) & performance-related bonuses OR equity in Making of Champions!

Application & Deadline

  • - Send your CV and Cover Letter to management@makingofchamps.com, with ‘MoC Social Media Manager’ as email subject! The application deadline is Sunday September 7th 2014
  • - Interviews will take place throughout September 2014 in Lagos, or by phone/Skype for applicants in other locations!

Here’s a message from MoC Founder, Bambo Akani, on the launch of this new, exciting phase for Making of Champions – PROJECT RIO!

MoC is HIRING! Director of Operations for Track Club!!

23 Aug dv817032

Alas! We’ve discovered the secrets of Jamaica’s success, and we’re ready to bring it right here to Nigeria! Making of Champions will be launching Nigeria’s first ever Professional Track Club! We already have a World-Class Coaching Team in place waiting to be activated, but first we need a Director of Operations who will be tasked with setting up the Track Club in Lagos, managing the day-to-day operations of the Club, and turning it into a well-oiled machine that will churn world-class sprinters, hurdlers and jumps for years to come. We’re talking Jamaica 2.0!

We’re looking for an entrepreneurial spirit, someone who is ready to be part of this new and exciting start-up that will lead the revolution in Nigerian Track & Field! Athletics in Nigeria will never be the same again because of your industry-leading efforts in setting up and running this Track Club for PROJECT RIO! Yes, YOU will be at the forefront of a WHOLE NEW INDUSTRY in Nigeria!

Job Description

  • - Work hand-in-hand with MoC Founder on the overall strategy & execution for PROJECT RIO
  • - Implement an aggressive nationwide athlete scouting and recruitment programme
  • - Scout out and secure the training premises for MoC, including tracks and gyms
  • - Liaise with the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) to ensure seamless integration of Making of Champions as a locally registered Track Club for domestic competitions
  • - Work hand-in-hand with our World Class Coaching team to ensure the smooth running of daily club activities, including training, educating, mentoring, housing & feeding the athletes
  • - Organize the travel, accommodation and board of MoC Athletes for ALL domestic and international competitions
  • - Develop coaching courses led by the Head Coach of the Track Club, which locally-based coaches across Nigeria can attend to help improve the training of athletes in their regions
  • - Lead our fundraising efforts by interacting with and pitching to potential Nigerian and International Sponsors and Investors for Making of Champions and our Athletes
  • - Must be based in Lagos full-time, with plenty of travel within Nigeria for recruitment and competitions expected, and some travel abroad for major competitions involving MoC Athletes

Requirements

  • - 3 – 5 years Operations or similar experience. Prior experience in Sports Management or Administration is a plus, not a pre-requisite. 
  • - Prior experience working/doing business in Nigeria an advantage!
  • - Bachelor’s Degree in any field. Sports and/or business related degrees a plus, not a necessity.
  • - Deep knowledge and interest in Nigerian Athletics, and complete understanding of the business of Track & Field globally
  • - Understanding of best practice in the identification and development of Track & Field talent
  • - Proven leadership, people management and team building skills in order to lead a strong Track Club team, and build a robust network of feeder coaches and clubs across Nigeria!
  • - Demonstrable problem solving and decision-making skills with the ability to work under pressure and balance conflicting demands and deadlines.
  • - Commercially astute with proven experience of working at a strategic level and of preparing and managing budgets and other financial reports.
  • - A ‘never say die, won’t give up’ attitude – it’s a SPORTS start-up, in NIGERIA! 

Compensation & Other Benefits

  • - Full-time salary negotiable (based on experience), plus performance-related bonuses OR equity in Making of Champions!

Application & Deadline

  • - Send your CV and Cover Letter to management@makingofchamps.com, with ‘MoC Director of Operations’ as email subject! The application deadline is Sunday September 7th 2014
  • - Interviews will take place throughout September 2014 in Lagos, or by phone/Skype for applicants in other locations!

Here’s a message from MoC Founder, Bambo Akani, on the launch of Project Rio. Come on Nigeria – Let’s MAKE CHAMPIONS! See you in Rio!!

Making of Champions is RECRUITING! 4 CHAMPIONS needed to lead PROJECT RIO!

23 Aug business-people-running-on-track-Gray-Stone-Advisors

Here’s a message from our Founder & CEO, Bambo Akani – it’s a CALL TO ARMS to all to MAKE CHAMPIONS for Team Nigeria!

———-

Dear CHAMPIONS,

I would like to formally announce the launch of ‘PROJECT RIO’ – our 2-year project to produce Olympians and Olympic Medallists for Nigeria by 2016. Right here in Nigeria! It’s an exciting and ambitious plan that has been in the works for some time now, and now we’re looking to recruit the team of CHAMPIONS that will put all our plans into motion!

Making of Champions has come a very long way in a short time. Barely 2 years ago, Nigeria suffered the ignominy of returning from the London 2012 Olympics with a sum total of ZERO medals! I was so perplexed and surprised by this outcome given our rich history in the sprints and jumps, that shortly after the Olympics, I hired a documentary team to make what has now become a feature-length film – Making of Champions: “The History”, to show Nigerians that we have the potential to be the top Track & Field nation in the world!

The film took us all over the globe, as we tracked down many of Nigeria’s former medallists, such as Francis Obikwelu, Glory Alozie and Innocent Egbunike, in Portugal, Spain and USA respectively, to hear their untold stories. We also travelled all the way to Jamaica, along with Nigeria’s ONLY male double Olympic Medallist in our history, Enefiok Udo-Obong, to meet their stars and find out exactly why they’re so fast! Following the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, the former Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, flew me down from London to Abuja as a Sports Consultant, to help lead a 3-day Strategy Session on installing a High Performance System for Sports in Nigeria!

In 2014, Making of Champions Media presence has grown leaps and bounds, driven by our LIVE, ON LOCATION coverage of Team Nigeria at domestic and international competitions – the World Relays in the Bahamas, the Nigerian Trials in Calabar, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and most recently the African Championships in Morocco, which was not even televised in Nigeria! Since launching our social media platforms in March 2014, our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Followers have grown to 7,500, 1,000 and 200 respectively, while our YouTube page has reached 22,500 views and this blog has amassed a staggering 50,000 views!

The success of Making of Champions to date can be attributed to my amazing documentary team, a crack team of social media experts who helped launch our online platforms, and a small team of volunteer writers and bloggers. As we enter a new phase of growth with ‘PROJECT RIO’, it’s time that we expand our horizons and bring even more CHAMPIONS into the fold! As such, we will be recruiting for the following roles (full or part-time) to lead us into the 2014/15 Athletics Season and right through till the Rio 2016 Olympics!

Director of Operations, MoC Track Club

Social Media Manager, MoC Media

Senior Sports Writer, MoC Media

Junior Sports Writer, MoC Media

Click on the role of your interest to see a full job description, and share this with your friends whom you think might be interested in MAKING CHAMPIONS for Nigeria! To apply, simply send your CV and Cover Letter to management@makingofchamps.com, with the name of the role you’re applying for as the email subject! The deadline for ALL applications is Sunday September 7th – interviews will take place throughout September in Lagos, or by phone/Skype for applicants in other locations!

Come on Nigeria – Let’s MAKE CHAMPIONS!!!

Many thanks, and see you in Rio!!

Bambo Akani,

Founder & CEO, Making of Champions Ltd

Blessing Okagbare EXCLUSIVE Part II – On MARRIAGE, KIDS & finding her voice on Social Media!

21 Aug IMG_0477 copy 2

BLESSING OKAGBARE, recently crowned Commonwealth 100m & 200m Champion and African 100m Champion & Record Holder, speaks EXCLUSIVELY to MAKING OF CHAMPIONS on her career, personal life and on Nigerian Athletics! In this second part of the 3-part interview series recorded in Morocco during the African Championships, she speaks on her upcoming marriage, on having kids, and on finding her voice on Social Media!

Now, you’re engaged to be married. So first of all congratulations!

Thank you!!

Do you have a wedding date yet, and will you be planning to start a family soon? How do you plan to weigh that up with your career aspirations?

Actually it’s sometime in November and I’m looking forward to it. But I just want to get the wedding over with. I mean when I get married I become Mrs someone, I would have a husband but then talking about a family and kids is not really in the schedule for right now. I already have so much planned out for the near future and I really want to achieve that. That’s why I just believe that when I can do this and put this in place, then the rest will follow.

So maybe kids after the next Olympics…?

Well we’ll see about that.

Your fiancé is an ex-Super Eagles player, Igho Otegheri. Have you discussed whether your children will be footballers or sprinters?

 (She laughs) Oh we always argue about that. He would be like ‘he would play soccer’ and I would be like ‘Play what? My son is not playing soccer. He can play basketball. I wouldn’t want the girl to be in Track but the thing is when they are blessed with the talent, there’s not much we can do but support them. I would really want to support my kids but I don’t want any of them to be in Track & Field.

With the two of you it seems you’re going to have some pretty talented kids….

They can just do other sports – a sport that can make them some money though!

You’ve started using social media quite effectively to make your voice heard. We’ve got some quotes here that you’ve made on Facebook, and we just wanted to ask exactly what each of them mean to you! The first one is ‘Do not mock a pain that you haven’t endured’.

It goes to people that just sit down and criticize. It’s a like the team goes for a competition and, they don’t know what I went through at the Olympics, and they say, ‘She just went there and failed’. The thing is, do you think I actually went there to fail? You don’t know what it feels like. It took me four months to get over London 2012, just to get over the whole mental setback before putting myself together. The thing is before you actually sit down to criticize someone, put yourself in the shoes of that person and see what it feels like, before jumping to conclusions.

The second one is interesting. ‘It is in the house of a coward that people gather and point to the tomb of yesterday’s warrior.’

(Laughter) I had people say so much about that. Yes the thing is some people say something right now, and they go back and change it, and they bring people together and talk about the same thing while they are not really going to do it. ‘You know I really want to be somebody, I want to do this, I want to do that’ and then they go back and change it; they don’t fulfill the things they said they were going to do. Or they just brag about something so hard but behind closed doors they do the opposite. But they bring people together and say all this stuff like….I call them cowards.

The next one is ‘When someone says you’ve changed, it simply means you’ve stopped living your life their way.’

Of course! Of course!! If I make you too happy that means I’ve been doing a lot of things that you love but the thing is you have to accept me for who I am. We might be friends but sometimes I tell people that there is so much that goes beyond friendship. Some people might go ‘You’ve changed; you’ve stopped hanging out with us’. It’s just priority based; it’s not like I changed.  

So on that note, how have you changed over the years and do you have to change to become a champion sprinter and win medals?

I’ve not really changed; I’ve just become more me and that’s Blessing Okagbare and there are certain things I can’t do. Like when I have a competition, you don’t expect me to be at the lobby trying to sit down and chit chat with people. I have to go to bed a certain time, I have to eat at a certain time. I remember how many times my coach made me go to bed in Glasgow and I couldn’t eat because it was too late, we came back from the track late. I go to bed starving and it is not fun. It is discipline. The thing is I get extremely disciplined. Like I was telling one of my friends that just graduated that when you are done with school, they start paying you a cheque. You get to another stage of your life where you just don’t say things or do things like ‘I don’t know if I want to do this thing, I’m not sure’, no you have to want it, that’s just it. I didn’t change, I just became more me, like I had to start putting more things on the priority list. The things I want right now, like I want this award, like Commonwealth GOLD medal, I’m not going for second place. This is what I want, so what is it going to take me coach? And then he says ‘This is what you have to do, you have to do this or do that’.

So the final quote from your wall is Biblical. It says ‘For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay.’ (Habakkuk 2:3)

Patience! It’s all about patience. Every day of my life has been a blessing, that’s what I see. I’ve been through a lot and sometimes I just feel like ‘God, you just forgot about me’ but each time I read the scriptures, there is so much I see that I’ve not even read in the Bible, that there is something called patience and you just have to be patient. When things start falling in place you will be so amazed at how wonderful it will be!

Tune in on Sunday evening for the third and final part of this Exclusive Interview with Blessing Okagbare, where she speaks on attempting the Olympic TREBLE, and she shares her thoughts on reviving Nigerian Athletics – stay tuned!

If you missed Part I, on Blessing’s CAREER and her chase for more MEDALS and RECORDS, check it out here!

Blessing Okagbare EXCLUSIVE Part I – On her CAREER & On chasing more MEDALS & RECORDS!

18 Aug IMG_0485 copy

BLESSING OKAGBARE, recently crowned Commonwealth 100m & 200m Champion and African 100m Champion & Record Holder, speaks EXCLUSIVELY to MAKING OF CHAMPIONS on her career, personal life and on Nigerian Athletics! In this first part of this 3-part interview series recorded in Morocco during the African Championships, she speaks on her career to date and on chasing even more medals and records!

You started off as a Long & Triple Jumper – how and when did you get your big break in your career?

Well I would say it started from my moving to the States. That was when it really started happening because I would say that was one of the best and greatest decisions I have made in my life, because if I had been in Nigeria, honestly I don’t know where I would have been right now. It actually started in 2008 at 19 when I won a bronze medal in Beijing. Then I didn’t know what it was but as the years progressed I got more education as regards to Track & Field and I figured that I had much more talent than what I was seeing so I just took it up from there.

So would you say your bronze medal kind of helped your move to the US, and getting a scholarship?

No I actually got the bronze medal after I arrived the States. That was my first year in college then.

When did you start sprinting, and when did you know that you had the potential to become a champion sprinter?

Usually we do a lot of running when we are jumping and my coach was like ‘You have a lot of speed to put on the track’ and I was like no at first. So it was actually in 2009 when he said ‘We are going to this meet and you are going to jump and do the sprints’ and I was like ‘Why?’ He said, ‘I just want you to sprint, take a break from jumping’. I was like ‘Okay, that’s fine, I’m up for it’ so I actually did and surprised myself with 11.22s, so that was it! That was how it started. Not every sprinter would just run 11.22s on their first race so for a jumper to do that, it means you’ve got the talent so I stuck to it.

What is the greatest moment in your career so far?

I would actually say the Commonwealth Games right now. It’s really new and fresh though but I think it was one of the competitions I really prepared for and everything was just in place. I was so relaxed but extremely focused, and executed much better than I have ever done in my career and it paid off.

What about when you broke the 100m African Record?

I was so happy when I won that race, just because of how fast I ran. I wasn’t worried about the African record. I was just really happy because I wasn’t expecting the race to be that fast. I was like ‘What!’ people were like ‘You’re way better than that, you just don’t know it.’

Which medal that you’ve won means the most to you?

I will say the World Championships.

Which of the two – the Silver in the Long Jump or Bronze in the 200m?

The Bronze in the 200m

Why that one in particular?

Because there is more competition in that one versus the Long Jump. It’s the biggest stage.

You’ve come a long way since the 1st Bronze in Beijing, and it took you 5 more years to get another global medal – the two medals at the World Championships. What would you say to Nigerians whom always expect instant success, and to those that wrote you off after London 2012?

Well I won’t blame them. I’m not criticizing them it’s just that we have less education when it comes to sports, and Track & Field and how it goes. I really want them to look more into this whole aspect of sports. I also want them to know that there is no magic in sports, as much as we the athletes want to go there and win, but there is always somebody who is working harder than you are, and more is being invested in that person than in you. It’s not like you don’t have the talent, you do have the talent but there is so much that makes an individual a champ. It starts from the way you eat or sleep, the people you surround yourself with, the people that educate you, the people that sponsor you, the people that tell you that you can do it, versus Nigerians, the majority of whom just criticize. They don’t have any education regarding what athletes go through. It got a little bit to me after 2012; a lot of people wrote me off but the thing is I believe God has blessed me so much more than what people just see for me to give up my career so easily. I knew that I had just started so I just kept my faith.

What are your hopes and dreams for the rest of your career?

Actually I want to do way better than I have done right now, like extremely better. I’m talking about attempting world records and putting myself in the gold medal position and I actually want to be one of the best sprinters to end up being in track and field…Sprinter slash Jumper! (she laughs).

On that note how much lower do you think you can take the 100m African Record?

I’m actually looking at a 10.5; 10.58. That’s what I’m going to work towards, which is not going to be easy.

It sounds like 9.58, like Usain Bolt?

Well, this is Blessing Okagbare. Like I said at the Commonwealth Games I’m going to work twice as hard as I have ever worked. Even a 10.7 is not an easy race I’m telling you, but that is actually my goal. I’m looking at a 10.5 in future because I’m still young and getting to my peak. Usually the peak should be between 27 and 28 and I’m 25 right now so as long as I stay healthy, I am looking at 10.5, 21.6 in the 200m, and 7.50 in the long jump. I’ve not been training for the jumps but anytime I go out there I still jump 7m so I have the talent to jump over that.

Well you’ve already answered our next question because for a long time a lot of people, including ourselves, have seen the 200m as possibly your best event. How soon do you see yourself breaking Mary Onyali’s African Record of 22.07s? When do you think you can go under 22?

I’m actually looking at it this year, with good conditions. I was trying to attempt it in Glasgow but the way they had that schedule (the semis and final on the same evening) was completely off for me. First of all the weather was horrible; it was too cold and damp so I didn’t want to push it. The semi-final was very easy for me so I was like ‘let me do it’ but after that, with the rain and everything, my coach said ‘don’t push it’. And you want to listen to the person that coaches you because they have been there before. They know the pros and cons of everything you do, so he said ‘don’t push it, just go there and win’ and that was what we did. I’m still trying to recover from the Commonwealth Games. I have still Brussels (Diamond League) so I’m hoping to run faster there. Hopefully I can attempt the 200.

Tune in later this week for the Part II of this Exclusive Interview with Blessing Okagbare, where she speaks on her upcoming wedding, on having kids, and on finding her voice on Social Media – stay tuned!

Blessing winning 100m GOLD at Marrakech 2014 in a new African Championship Record of 11.00 seconds flat!

IMG_0369 copy - Okagbare & Murielle IMG_0370 copy Okagbare & Ahoure 2IMG_0371 copy Okagbare & Ahoure 3IMG_0373 copy Okagbare & Ahoure 5

 

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