2012 Calabar Championships: Rivalry in Sprint Good for Athletics
Respected track and field coach, Chief Tony Osheku, has predicted that the new Rivalry between the sprints duo of reigning national champion, Blessing Okagbare and All-Africa Games reigning queen, Damola Osayomi will headline the 66th edition of the Cross River State-sponsored All Nigeria Open Athletics Championships which holds between June 21 and 23 at the U.J Esuene Stadium in Calabar.
Both athletes are expected to go head-to-head again for the 100m title and Osheku believes this will be the race to look forward to in Calabar.
“These two will literally set the Calabar tracks on fire. Every Athletics watchers must be eagerly anticipating the duel between the two athletes. I heard there was some sort of controversy last year over who won. I was told Blessing edged it after the photo-finish machine was used to separate the winner from the loser. It must be that loss that ensured Damola came out blistering the way she did at the All-Africa Games to beat Blessing. So between the two, there is already a score to settle'', said Osheku who revealed that it was Blessing that stopped Osayomi from making it a hat-trick of titles in 2009 in Abuja and she failed to halt Blessing's stride last year in Calabar.
Osheku is particularly thrilled that a new wave of Rivalry is beginning to blow after the celebrated rivalries between Mary Onyali and Chioma Ajunwa, Falilat Ogunkoya and Charity Opara and between the late Sunday Bada and Clement Chukwu in the 1990s.
''I'm happy with what is happening to track and field in Nigeria, especially the Blessing and Damola Rivalry which I think will bring a competitive edge to the sport. It is what the sport needs now in a country football has been so dominant in the media. It promotes the sport. It is head-to-head events like this we are going to have in the 100m in Calabar that will draw attention to the sport and bring people to the stadium,'' he said.
Osheku is also full of plaudits for Cross River State governor, senator Liyel Imoke for making the All Nigeria Open Athletics Championships bigger than it used to be a few years ago.
“The governor has proved to be a sports loving one. What I particularly like about him is that he is addressing the problems of sports from the very base which is what I think other states should be doing. The state's sports development programme should be emulated by other governors. If this is done, Nigeria will, in no time reclaim her lost status as a super power in global athletics,'' he further said.
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