Tag Archives: Commonwealth Games

Gloria Asumnu to face world’s best in 100m @ Continental Cup

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Nigerian sprinter Gloria Asumnu will represent Team Africa in the 100m at theIAAF Continental Cup in Marrakech this weekend, following the withdrawal of national, African and Commonwealth champion, Blessing Okagbare.

The competition was meant to be Okagbare’s last outing for the season, but her sixth place finish in the 200m at the second final of the IAAF Diamond League in Brussels last week was perhaps an indication that the African record holder needed to take a break after a long and eventful season, which saw her emerge as double sprint champion at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and African title holder in Marrakech.

Her place in the African team will now be taken by Asumnu, who finished second at the National Trials in Calabar in June where she clocked a Season’s Best (SB) of 11.15s. The former African 200m champion will now team up with Cote d’Ivoire’s Marie J Ta Lou Gonezie to represent the African continent in the 100m.

Asumnu represented Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games where she placed eight in the final and won silver in the 4x100m behind Jamaica. She proceeded to the African Championships where she finished fourth in the final which had three Nigerians, with a time of 11.49s, while Lawretta Ozoh placed seventh in 11.74s.

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She also ran the first leg in the 4x100m race, which was won by Nigeria. However she lost her 200m crown to double silver medallist at the 2013 World Championships, Murielle Ahouré (22.36s), finishing fifth this time around, while team mate, Dominique Duncan emerged the surprise medallist, taking bronze in 22.98s.

Asumnu’s SB puts her 36th in 2014 world rankings, and incidentally ranks higher than Ta Lou Gonezie who has posted 11.20s as her fastest time this season, and is 43rd on the list. They will be facing Michelle-Lee Ahye and Veronica Campbell-Brown who will be representing the Americas. Ahye has the second fastest time in 2014 (10.85s), while Campbell-Brown is No.4 with 10.86s.

They would also have to be wary of the threat the European pair of Dafne Schippers and Myriam Soumaré pose, as they jointly occupy the 13th spot in the rankings with 11.03s and would be aiming to go under 11s for the first time. Asia-Pacific’s Melissa Breen (24th with 11.11s) and Olga Safronova (54th with 11.23s) complete the field.

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Gloria Asumnu will be representing Team Africa in the women’s 100m on Saturday Sept 13th at 8.40pm.

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm!

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Africa’s Ogoegbunam to face Americas’ Spencer & Asia’s Adekoya in 400m Hurdles @ Continental Cup!

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Faster times may just be around the corner for Nigeria’s Amaka Ogoegbunam who will be rubbing shoulders with the world’s best 400m hurdlers when the IAAF Continental Cup gets underway in Marrakech, Morocco on September 13th and 14th

The season has been a long one for the hurdler who came to national prominence at the 2009 National Sports Festival (NSF) where she won two gold and a silver medal including the 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles. After having an injury-ravaged 2013, she has featured in most legs of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) Golden League which she dominated, and her efforts paid off after emerging Nigerian Champion at the National Trials in June in Calabar, which earned her a call-up for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

In Glasgow, she qualified for the final where she would have run a Personal Best (PB), but was disqualified along with South Africa’s Wenda Theron Nel. She brushed aside the disappointment with a silver medal winning performance at the African Championships. There, she led her heat in 56.49s, and the final turned out to be a defining moment in Ogoegbunam’s career as she came second behind Nel, clocking a PB of 55.46s, which places her as No.23 in the world this year. The South African is 13th with a time of 54.82s.

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Speaking with Making of Champions after her feat, Amaka gushed: “I feel so happy that I don’t know what to say. I’ve worked so hard this season, and then coming here to run a PB is massive. I am so grateful to God and my coach. I think I’m going to do much better at the Continental Cup; I just have to go and work on my technique because I believe that I can do a 54 low.”

At the Continental Cup, Ogoegbunam will be facing contenders who dominated her event at the Commonwealth Games. Top on the list is Kaliese Spencer who is the reigning Commonwealth Champion, world leader and winner of the Diamond Race Trophy. The Jamaican who comes with a Season’s Best (SB) of 53.41s virtually dominated the event this season, winning six of seven legs in the Diamond League series and amassing a massive 30 points. Spencer will be joined by world No.2, Kori Carter (53.84s) in the Americas team.

The only athlete who vanquished Spencer in the Diamond League this season in the very first race was Bahrain’s Kemi Adekoya, who will also pose a formidable threat representing Team Asia. Adekoya, who switched allegiance to Bahrain under controversial circumstances, is No.7 in the world this year with a time of 54.59s, in the Doha Diamond League meet that she defeated Spencer in May. She will be joined by Australia’s Lauren Wells (world No.29) who finished in fourth place at the Commonwealth Games and has an SB of 55.69s

The European team comprises of formidable opponents as well in the persons of newly crowned European champion and Commonwealth Games silver medallist, Eilidh Child of Team GB who is the fourth fastest athlete this year (54.39s) and Anna Titimets of Ukraine who is sixth in the world this year with 54.56s.

 

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Amaka Ogoegbunam will be representing Team Africa in the women’s 400m Hurdles on Saturday Sept 13th at 7.15pm!

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm!

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with ESE BRUME, Nigerian, African & Commonwealth Long Jump CHAMPION!

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ESE BRUME, recently crowned Nigerian, African & Commonwealth Long Jump Champion, speaks EXCLUSIVELY to MAKING OF CHAMPIONS on her recent successes and her career so far! We caught up with her in Morocco just after she won the African Crown and qualified to represent Team Africa at the upcoming IAAF Continental Cup!

First of all congratulations! How do you feel about your victories, firstly at the Commonwealth Games and now at the African Championships?

Thank you. I feel good. I’m happy that at least I have made my country and family proud.

Was it expected? Were you expecting to win?

Yes, sure. I was expecting it.

How did you get started in athletics?

I started in secondary school. I had to represent Delta at the National School Sports Festival (NSSF). That was in 2008 though I wasn’t as serious. I came second in the long jump. I stopped for a while but then my present coach, Mr. Kayode Yaya had to take me from my parents to Benin where he started training me.

So where in Delta are you from?

Ughelli South.

So what was it like leaving your family and moving to Benin. Was it hard?

Not really, because I used to visit home frequently, every weekend.

How many years have you been training in Benin now?

For two and a half years.

You won the last National Sports Festival in 2012. What was your distance then? How did it feel to win your first big title?

Good! I was like, ‘So I can actually make it’. I was surprised.

So was that the moment you knew that you could actually make it as an athlete?

Yes. That and the National Trials last year where I came second behind Blessing Okagbare with a jump of 6.53m.

What is your Personal Best?

That is 6.68m which I did at the National Trials this year. I won the title.

What happened at the World Junior Championships, when you were only able to record one valid jump of 5.18m and could not reach the final? Were you disappointed?

Actually I didn’t get my run up so it was just a bad day. I wasn’t disappointed, I just felt that maybe God was preparing me for something bigger.

When you got to the Commonwealth Games, where you thinking ‘I’ve got something to prove’, to put that performance behind you and do something better?

Yes. I told myself that I had to tell the federation and everyone that it was about my run up. I wanted to prove everyone wrong, because everyone was like ‘What was wrong with me?’ I was the world leader and all of a sudden I came last. I had to turn to God and put Him first and He did it.

At the Commonwealth Games you qualified for the final in 12th position. At that point were you thinking that you could still win the gold medal?

Yes! All I was thinking at that moment was for me to qualify because I knew that once I qualified, I would be left with six jumps.

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So which athletes inspire you? Who do you look up to?

Blessing Okagbare. She is good, she’s got good character and she’s doing fine. She’s hardworking; she sprints and jumps well. I also want to sprint like her.

So you would like to follow her footsteps and switch from long jump to the sprints?

Yes. Sometimes she talks to me and tutors me. I just want to be like her.

You sprinted in the Nigerian Golden League this season, where you ran 11.8 seconds. How did that feel, going out there to sprint?

It felt cool, but I’m not that fast. I have to work harder at it.

So you train during the week and then go home at weekends?

I don’t go home like that again. That was then.

So what about your education? What is the plan for you? Are you looking to go to University in Nigeria or abroad? What’s the plan?

I have not decided yet.

If you get a good school and scholarship abroad, will you follow in Blessing’s footsteps and go?

I can’t say for now. I’m still thinking about it.

Apart from Blessing, are there any other sports personalities that you like? 

I like Allyson Felix. I love the way she sprints. She’s really good and very graceful.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you enjoy watching movies, listening to music or anything else? 

I’m not a movie freak, though I like Korean movies. I like music but I can’t sing. I love blues. I love Celine Dion and Toni Braxton. I like Mariah Carey.

But these are old school. Don’t you like any more current artists, maybe some hip-hop or rap?

The only rap artiste I like is Eminem.

What kind of music do you listen to when you are training?

It’s not allowed in my gym.

For how long do you train daily?

It depends on the training programme. Sometimes three hours, other times four, but the maximum is four hours. We train twice a day, like two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening.

How do you spend the rest of your day?

Sometimes I watch movies or read novels or just visit my team mates but not frequently. It’s a rare occurrence. I like Shakespeare.

Hope not Mills & Boons?

(Laughter)

How many days do you train in a week?

Five days. We don’t train during weekends so that we have time to recover.

 Your parents must be very proud of you. How did they allow your coach to take you to Benin to go and train?

They were very supportive and they are part of my inspiration. They encouraged me from an early age.

What do your parents do?

My mother is a teacher and my father is a teacher.

They always believed that you will be a star? 

Right from when I was in secondary school, even when I was in primary school though I wasn’t among the best then. But when I was in secondary school I was doing well so they pushed me in that direction.

What will you say about Nigerian parents who would not want their children to do sports?

It’s good for them to give their kids the opportunity if they have the talent.

So what’s next for you now since you’ve won almost everything? You are National Champion, Commonwealth Champion, African Champion?

I’m looking forward to doing better at the IAAF Continental Cup where I will represent the continent and then after that, the National Sports Festival.

What are your hopes regarding the Olympics, World Championships. You’ve not been to either so what are your hopes for representing Nigeria at the highest level?

My dream is to become the world’s best so I know that for the World Championships, I will be on the medals table because I should be doing much better before then. If not the GOLD, I will be on the medals table.

Have you talked to your coach about sprinting? Is that in your plan for the next few years?

It’s for next season. My coach says I will start then.

Well, we wish you the best of luck and will look out for you at the World Championships and Olympics in the Long Jump, and maybe soon in the sprints!

Thank you.

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Ese Brume will be representing Team Africa in the women’s Long Jump on Sunday Sept 14th from 7.40pm.

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm!

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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!

Brume adds African Long Jump Title to Commonwealth Crown, Amadi takes Silver!

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It was another 1-2 for Nigeria in the women’s long jump event as Ese Brume added the African crown to her list of titles with a jump of 6.50m, which was just 6cm shy of her golden jump at the Commowealth Games in Glasgow, while team mate and Nigeria’s No.2, Chinazom Amadi made a leap of 6.40m to finish in second position at the ongoing African Senior Athletics Championships in Marrakech. Earlier in the day, Nigeria recorded a top two finish in the women’s discus where Chinwe Okoro and Nwanneka Okwelogu dominated the event.

This latest addition is the fifth title the Delta State athlete has to her name at the moment, including the National Sports Festival crown (which brought her to limelight two years ago), the national title (which she won at the Nigerian Trials in June), African Juniors title (which she won in Mauritius last year), Commonwealth GOLD (in Glasgow earlier this month) and now the African GOLD Medallist! She is also the African junior record holder in the event!

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Chinazom Amadi also demonstrated extreme composure in pulling out a Season’s Best jump of 6.40m after initially going out to 6.17m, which would have seen her run out of the medals! She is a seasoned African Championships performer, having won Silver in Ethiopia in 2008 and Bronze in 2006 in Mauritius with jumps of 6.31m and 6.23m respectively! Her PB of 6.60m was set at the National Trials in Calabar in 2012.

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 Brume has demonstrated by this performance that her GOLD in Glasgow was no fluke, having emerged as the surprise winner in a field that comprised of more experienced jumpers including England’s Shara Proctor and a host of others. She has been consistent this season, save for the IAAF World Junior Championships where she finished at the bottom of her group in the qualifying round just a week before Glasgow. It is still difficult to pinpoint what went wrong in Oregon, although it was alleged that she arrived for the competition a day before her event, and perhaps was still exhausted by her sojourn.

Ese Brume has truly come of age – the jumping sensation has put that disappointment behind her, and has more than made up for the loss by commanding outstanding performances in subsequent events. The stage is now set for both Brume and Amadi to rub shoulders with some of the world’s best ahead of the IAAF Continental Cup slated to also hold in Marrakech next month!

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Commonwealth Champion ESE BRUME set to become Africa’s Long Jump Queen!

9 Aug Ese Brume Jumping for GOLD

Nigeria’s emerging long jump queen, Ese Brume may be heading for her first title in the African Senior Athletics Championships, going by her exploits at the recently ended Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where she won the GOLD medal, much to the surprise of keen athletics observers around the world!

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Brume is not a stranger to winning titles though, as she won the Long Jump and took Silver in the Triple Jump at the African Junior Championships in Mauritius last year. She is the reigning National Sports Festival Champion, a feat which brought her to national limelight in 2012. She also emerged 2014 Nigerian champion at the National Trials with a PB of 6.68m set in Calabar.

However, her outing in Glasgow stunned most observers as Brume, who was at the bottom of the qualifiers at the IAAF World Junior Championships with 5.18m only a week earlier, suddenly transformed into the Commonwealth Champion with a jump of 6.56m. Her performance in the Qualifying rounds in Glasgow did little to hint at  her potential to win the title, as she only just qualified for the final in 12th with a distance of 6.29m.

In the final, the home nations’ favourite for the title, England’s Shara Proctor suffered an injury while attempting her first jump, which ruled her out of the competition, thus paving way for the Nigerian sensation to clinch her first Commonwealth title. Hence the Delta State athlete emerged as one of the surprise Champions of the tournament, following the absence of 2013 World Silver Medallist and Commonwealth’s No.2 this year, Blessing Okagbare, who would have been favourite to win if she had competed, going by her pedigree in the event.

With Okagabre, Africa’s No. 1 Long Jumper, also not listed for the Long Jump at these African Championships, she seems set not to defend her African Long Jump Title which she won at the last two editions, most recently with a Championship Record of 6.96m in Benin Republic in 2012. That notwithstanding, Nigeria still looks likely to clinch at least two medals in the event, with the participation of both Ese Brume and Chinazom Amadi, Nigeria’s No. 3 and African No. 4 in the event, with 6.39m this season. 

Can Brume jump her way into the history books by becoming the Reigning National, African (both Senior and Junior) and Commonwealth Long Jump Champion all in one swoop? Watch out for her as the 19th African Senior Athletics Championships take off from August 10th to 14th!

 Long Jump Women’s Schedule: August 11th, Qualification Rounds at 10am, August 12th, Final at 8.10pm

(NB: This program is liable to change according to the number of participants and the local conditions)

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Okagbare and Ahouré set to renew sprint rivalry for African 100m & 200m titles!

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Fresh from winning the sprint double at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare will be looking to win both the 100m and 200m titles when the 19th African Senior Championships get underway in Marrakech, Morocco from August 10 to 14.

However this will be no ride in the park as she renews her rivalry with Cote d’Ivoire’s Murielle Ahouré, who would also be aiming for the same, as she comes to the championship as the World Silver Medallist over the 100m and 200m, a feat she achieved by getting the better of Okagbare over both distances (Blessing finished 6th and 3rd respectively). The Ivorian became the first African woman to win a medal in the sprints at the World Championships, while Okagbare was the second to do so, with her bronze medal in the 200m in Moscow last year.

All that said, based on current form and barring any injuries, Okagbare is the favourite to clinch both medals, following her impressive outing in Glasgow where she won the 100m with a Commonwealth Games record of 10.85s, her fastest this year, and the 200m in 22.25s. Ahouré is directly behind Okagbare in the continental rankings this season, with her times of 10.97s over 100m and 22.61s in the 200m. The pair have met once over the 200m this season, at the Eugene leg of the Diamond League, where the Nigerian finished 2nd with a PB of 22.23s, and Ahouré was 4th, in a race that proved to be the break out race for USA’s Tori Bowie, who is the fastest woman over the 100m and 200m this year. 

The duo have also gone head to head twice in the 100m in the Diamond League this season. In Lausanne, Okagbare slipped and did not complete the race, while Ahouré finished 2nd in 10.98s. The final meeting between the pair was in the 100m in Monaco last month, where Ahouré got the edge over her Nigerian rival as she finished in 3rd with her SB of 10.97s, while Okagbare followed closely with the same time in 4th.

After winning a Silver two years ago in the 100m, Blessing will be hoping to go one better at both distances this time around, although not if Ahouré has anything to say about it! The defending 100m Champion, Gabon’s Ruddy Zang Milama is only 6th fastest in Africa this year in 11.24s, so it would be a surprise if she were able to beat Okagbare this time around! 

Also watch out for defending 200m African Champion and 100m Bronze Medallist from 2012, Gloria Asumnu. She looks like a good bet for Bronze in the 100m as she is Africa’s No. 3 this year, though if she does compete in the 200m this time around, she will likely have to improve her SB of 23.28s to dip below 23 seconds and be in contention for a 200m medal!

Women’s 100m Schedule: Aug 10th – Round 1 @ 9.30am, Semis @ 8.35pm; Aug 11th – FINAL @ 6pm

Women’s 200m Schedule: Aug 13th – Round 1 @ 9.30am, Semis @ 6.40pm; Aug 14th – FINAL @ 8.45pm

(NB: This program is liable to change according to the number of participants and the local conditions)

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EXCLUSIVE Interview with TOSIN OKE, Nigeria’s Defending C’wealth & African Triple Jump Champion!

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TOSIN OKE, Defending Commonwealth Games & African Triple Jump Champion, speaks EXCLUSIVELY to MAKING OF CHAMPIONS following yet another National Title at the Nigerian Trials in Calabar!  

Tosin, Congratulations! You just won the National Championships with a jump of 17.21m – though the distance is not valid for record purposes as it was assisted by a 2.4m/s wind, it does equal the 3rd best jump of your career, and just short of your PB of 17.23m. How are you feeling about the distance and the win?

 I can’t say I feel good; I feel more that since it’s the Commonwealth Games and African Championships year, it’s very important to be in top shape, so I’m getting into top shape.

 The announcer said this was your seventh national title. Is that the accurate figure?

 It’s five or six. Last year was very tricky. I had a few technical difficulties. The boards weren’t working last year and so I had a few problems. Even though I jumped the farthest, I didn’t win. This is my fifth title.

 How will you rate your performance so far this season? Are you satisfied?

 I tend to reflect on the season at the end and then make improvements for the future, so it’s too early to say. If I retain my Commonwealth title, it will be a success and if I retain my African title, it will be a huge success. Those are the markers for my season; I’m not really interested in Silver or Bronze. I’d like to get GOLD medals; that’s what I do all this work for and that’s how I will work out how good my season is.

 As reigning Commonwealth and African champion, what are you looking forward to in Glasgow and Marrakech? Are you under any form of pressure?

 I don’t suffer from any pressure to be honest. Obviously I do a lot of social work in the UK; I go to schools and try to inspire the young ones to be as good as they can be, so it will be nice to go there with four gold medals I think. That will be a nice thing but at the same time it is an important year for Nigeria and for me. At my age I just take every day as it comes and hope to do better each day, so we’ll see.

You’ve hit form at the right time. What do you feel about your chances of defending your Commonwealth Games title?

 I’m not a prophet like many Nigerians so I can’t predict what’s going to happen; I’m not an evangelist or anything like that. I’m just going to keep training well and stay focused and I’m going to see what happens.

 Quite a few men have gone over 17 metres this season but none really amongst the Commonwealth nation athletes. Surely that should be positive for your chances?

 Well it could be a factor if you are a statistician, but I’m not a statistician so I’d rather not make assumptions. I just like to focus on myself and try and do as best as I can.

Which opponents are you watching out for at the Commonwealth Games?

 I’m not watching out for anyone. This year I’m focused on myself solely and I think that’s the most important thing in Track and Field. When you start looking at others, you start assuming that they may do this or that and it distracts you from your own game, so I’m focused on myself.

Earlier this season at another meet in Morocco you beat some of the big names in the sport, including Phillips Idowu. Did you consider it a major achievement or do you just feel that this is your time to shine and you’re going to make the most of it?

 I don’t know if this is my time to shine so I have no idea since I’m not a prophet like a lot of my Nigerian brothers and sisters. The church of Tosin Oke has no members. We turn up to the track and jump as far as we can jump and if we win, we win. This year I have a lot to prove that I can get back to where I’m supposed to be. I’m just trying to fulfill that promise.

 Great! Let’s do a quick flashback. Since you switched over to Team Nigeria from Team GB, you’ve won GOLD medals at everything; African Championships twice, All-African Games and Commonwealth Games. What led to your decision about switching from Great Britain to Nigeria in the first place?

 Well it’s in the past; I don’t really care about it. I always look forward and I’m learning to look back in my career when I retire, so you will have to ask me that question after Rio and then maybe we can talk about it then. In the meantime what I focus on is Nigeria; doing my country proud and doing myself proud.

 Word has it that you fell out with Team GB selectors after they controversially left you out of their 2007 World Championship team. With all the GOLD medals you’ve won for Team Nigeria since then, do you feel vindicated by all your success during your time in Nigeria’s colours?

 I don’t really care; it’s irrelevant. The past is irrelevant now; what matters is the future and trying to continue to win medals in the future. That’s my focus. It makes no difference now.

Final question for you. You mentioned the Olympic Games in Rio. You are 33 now so you must be coming to the twilight of your career. Is the Olympic Games the last big event for Tosin Oke?

 Well if you think about it I’m 33 but my Nigerian age must be about 23 so that means I’ve got a lot of time, so I’ll be here for another 15 years I think! But on a serious note I definitely want to do another Olympic Games for Nigeria but we will see. I take it year by year so we will see.

 Fantastic! After finishing seventh in the final the last time around at the London Olympics, we hope you can get a medal in Rio!

 Tosin Oke will go in Group A of the Men’s Triple Jump Qualifying Round on Friday (Aug 1st) from 8.55pm, with Nigeria No. 2 Olu Olamigoke in Group B.

If they are amongst the Top 12 jumpers in qualifying, they will progress to the Final, at 7.10pm on Saturday (Aug 2nd) – DON’T MISS IT!

 

Tosin Oke collecting his GOLD medal in the Triple Jump at the 2014 Nigerian Trials!

Tosin Oke collecting his GOLD medal in the Triple Jump at the 2014 Nigerian Trials!

 

Brume comes of age as she claims Long Jump GOLD! Okagbare’s absence is “Blessing in Disguise”…

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Ese Brume became Nigeria’s new Long Jump sensation on Thursday night as she jumped to a distance 0f 6.56m to claim the Long Jump crown at the ongoing Commonwealth Games! England’s Jazmin Sawyers was second with 6.54m while Canada’s Christabel Netty placed third. One of the favourites of the competition and home girl, Shara Proctor (C’wealth No.3) had to pull out of the event after picking up an injury while attempting her first jump. Despite only qualifying for the final in 12th place with a 6.29m jump, Brume’s went into Silver medal position with 6.43m in her very first jump in the final. Her winning jump of 6.56m came in Round 3 and she subsequently did not relinquish the lead again!

Ese Brume on the podium, celebrating her C'wealth GOLD in the Long Jump!

Ese Brume on the podium, celebrating her C’wealth GOLD in the Long Jump!

Even though Brume came into the Games as Nigeria’s 2014 National Champion, not much was expected from her following a surprisingly out-of-sorts performance at the World Junior Championships in Eugene last week, where she failed to qualify for the final, only able to record one valid leap of 5.18m. As such, the Commonwealth GOLD medal performance represents a dramatic turnaround in just a few days for an athlete who was touted as a possible World Junior Champion but suffered the ignominy of finishing bottom of her qualifying group at those championships. Whatever the reasons behind that performance were, all is now forgotten! With Brume becoming the Commonwealth CHAMPION this early in her career, she has announced her arrival to the world with a bang, much like Okagbare did in winning an Olympic Bronze in the same event at Beijing ’08!

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Speaking of Okagbare, most will have assumed that the Long Jump GOLD was out of Nigeria’s reach following her opting out of the event for the 200m. But in hindsight it would seem that Okagbare’s absence was actually a Blessing in Disguise (no pun intended)! It allowed Brume the opportunity to compete with and triumph over several good, evenly-matched jumpers at similarly early stages of their careers, for the most part. Brume will now be in a prime position to follow Okagbare in developing into as world-class athlete over the next few years. As with Blessing, will we see Ese eventually diversify into the sprints? With her elegant frame and current PB of 11.80s in the 100m set in the domestic Golden League this year, we would not bet against her one day making serious waves on the global sprint scene!

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Ese Brume first came into national reckoning after winning the Long Jump at the 2012 National Sports Festival in Lagos, as well as two silver medals in the triple jump and high jump! She also scooped a silver medal for Nigeria during last year’s African Junior Championships in Mauritius!

Ese Brume at the Nigerian Trials in Calabar, on her way to winning the 2014 National Title

Ese Brume at the Nigerian Trials in Calabar, on her way to winning the 2014 National Title

 

 

Blessing Okagbare opts out of Long Jump to chase 200m GLORY @ C’wealth Games!

30 Jul Blessing wins GOLD and flies Naija flag

Blessing Okagbare fans could well be in for a treat and a complete spectacle in the women’s 200m at the Commonwealth Games, as the newly crowned 100m Commonwealth Champion is the red hot favourite to complete the sprint double with the 200 metre crown on Thursday night! Such is Blessing’s class beyond the rest of the Commonwealth field in the 200m, that it may simply be Blessing versus the clock. She took Debbie Ferguson’s 100m Commonwealth Games Record on Monday night, and may just take the same woman’s 200m Games Record (22.20s) on Thursday. The big question is: does Blessing just want the GOLD, or does she want to lay down a marker for years to come, by attacking Mary Onyali’s 18-year-old 200m African Record of 22.07 seconds?

Okagbare has been imperious form in the 200m this year, having made it her event of focus recently, despite starting out as a long jumper and then a 100m sprinter. She is 2nd fastest in the world this year with a PB of 22.23s, behind USA’s Tori Bowie (22.18s), she holds FOUR of the 10 fastest times this season and is leading the 200m Diamond Race. Her closest Commonwealth  competitor is Anthonique Strachan, the 2012 Double World Junior Champion and 9th fastest in the world this year with 22.50s, but she has inexplicably not been entered for the 200m – one imagines it could only be due to injury:

2014 CWG Womens 200 list FINAL

That leaves her main threat once again most likely to come from the Jamaicans – McLaughlin, Henry-Robinson and Calvert, who are 6th, 11th and 13th respectively in the Commonwealth this season, but ALL half a second slower than Okagbare. England’s Jodie Williams is the fastest Commonwealth athlete after Blessing competing in the 200m, after setting a PB of 22.60s this season, and while Williams will be a home nations favourite for a medal, she will almost certainly be fighting with the Jamaicans for Silver and Bronze!

An interesting sub-plot is Dominique Duncan’s first outing in an individual event for Nigeria, after switching from Team USA and coming within a hundredth of second to 4x100m Bronze at the World Relays with Team Nigeria! She’s No. 10 in the Commonwealth this year with a PB of 22.82s in April, and if she can replicate that she could also be in amongst the medals. That said, she only ran 23.91s in placing 3rd at the Nigerian Trials in June, so it will be interesting to see what kind of form she is coming into the Games with!

Some Okagbare fans will be disappointed to learn that she opted NOT to compete in the Long Jump at these Games – her compatriot Ese Brume competed in the Heats for that event on Wednesday morning, qualifying for the finals which will take place on Thursday evening, in between the women’s 200 metres semis and finals! From a scheduling point of view, it would have been virtually impossible for Okagbare to attempt TWO 200m races and SIX jumps in the Long Jump on the same night! She has taken the wisest decision, as the sprint double will be the far more widely recognised feat than the 100m and Long Jump combination!

One might recall that last year, Blessing failed to win a 100m medal in the World Championship final because she had taken 6 jumps the night before to win Long Jump Silver, and didn’t have enough time to recover to successfully execute two rounds of the 100m the next day. Clearly, the ‘scheduling gods’ are not working in her favour – global meet organisers will have to accord her the same privilege that they once showed to the likes of Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson, arranging their schedules around these superstars, if we’re ever going to see her attempt to go for THREE individual medals at major competitions!

Blessing is already Africa’s fastest woman ever in the 100m after smashing Glory Alozie’s 14-year-old record last year. The big question on Thursday will be, does she want a ‘Double Portion’ and take the 200m African Record as well? With her 10.85 second 100-metre speed in awesome display on Monday, something tells us that if Blessing decides she wants to re-write the 200 metre history books on Thursday night, she just might!

MoC PREDICTION: Barring injury, Nigeria’s favourite daughter Blessing Okagbare will WIN 200m GOLD on Thursday night, and could get the Commonwealth Games Record of 22.20s, but she might not yet be ready to break Mary Onyali’s African Record (22.07s). Even if she doesn’t get the record, we may  be about to witness the BIGGEST EVER winning margin in a global 200m final, since a certain Usain Bolt, ofcourse!

Dominique Duncan should make the final of the 200 metres, and getting a medal would be a huge boost for the 24-year-old. But can she put three rounds of 200 metres together in two days and run fast enough in the final to be in medal contention? The honest truth is that we have not seen enough of her to make a firm prediction on that just yet!

Round 1 of the Commonwealth Games 200 metres kicks off TONIGHT (Wednesday), with Blessing Okagbare in Heat 1 at 9.15pm and Dominique Duncan in Heat 6 at 9.45pmDON’T MISS IT!

The semi-finals start at 6.07pm on Thursday, with the Final shortly after at 8.45pm!

 

 

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