Uncovering the Secrets of Africa's Blessing
Tonte Davies, Telema Davies
Africa's fastest woman is Nigerian. The country has arguably some of the greatest exports from the continent in track and field events, specifically in sprint.
At some point in time, Nigeria had Mary Onyali-Omagbemi and Falilat Ogunkoya as sprint queens. They dominated as well as competed alongside other track greats the world has come to know.
Blessing Okagbare is in a different class. She is 'a sprinter who can jump' as she is aptly described by coaches who observed her superior pace as she studied in the United States.
The 26-year old has her objective for the future clearly defined. Blessing described her routine each morning wake which could be mistaken for the ideal routine of a business executive as well as an entrepreneur.
She undoubtedly sounds out as an entrepreneur. "I have goals written up and posted around my room.
I write them as soon as I wake, when I'm feeling fresh." She revealed in an interview monitored on the website of Nike, during a company's #AfricaSoFast campaign.
The sprinter, who combines beauty with brains, holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Management from the University of Texas, El Paso, an education deservedly earned by a scholarship for her practice in sports.
The Olympic medallist and current world number one in women's long jump event, isn't ready to let off just yet. "I'd like to break 10.2 seconds for the 100 and 22.8 seconds for the 200, and I want to jump further than 7.3 metres in the long jump." A tall order for a lady who wasn't considered physically competitive in sports while growing up
Primed and determined to achieve this feat, she holds the continent's best of 10.79 seconds in 100 metres. "It's all about setting goals and keeping your mind set on those goals. Don't ever give up on yourself", says the Nike brand ambassador. With her pace, she's certainly not far off from her set target.
And it isn't all Nike in her retinue of affiliates. Doyle Management Group, the company that represents the athlete's interest and brand positioning, has her among headline sponsors.
Financial powerhouse, FirstBank of Nigeria, endorsed Okagbare ahead of the 2012 London Olympics where she won a bronze medal. Doyle have Procter and Gamble (P&G) also on the list of endorsement deals. Her attitude on and off the track has been quite exemplary for the captain of Team Nigeria.
But the deal with global sport equipment manufacturer, Nike, pushes her limits. She reveals that her favourite training shoes as Nike Zoom Air Pegasus. "I'm a power runner, and the shoes are comfortable and give me a nice balance between weight and stability", she said.
Blessing knows she's got work to do in keeping faith with her goals and she's not relenting. Still battling with her starts, her practice sessions which involves juggling both events each day, focuses on technique and speed work.
The Commonwealth double gold medallist who will lead Team Nigeria to the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, is decisive and keen on the challenges ahead. "As long as you are on the starting line, you are a competitor."
more news on lifestyle
SIGN-UP FOR NEWSLETTERS