Africa’s Queen of the Tracks, Blessing Okagbare – Ighoteguonor, has explained why she did not protest her disqualification in the 100m Women’s semi-final race at the ongoing African Games in Morocco.
The hope of the two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist winning her first gold medal in 100m event in her fourth appearance at the Africa Games went up in smoke after being disqualified for a false start in the women’s 100m semi-finals heat 1 at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex on Monday.
A similar incident occurred earlier in the day where an athlete was disqualified for false start, but the culprit refused to leave the track, insisting that he was not at fault.
After some minutes of agument, the organisers allowed the athlete to run the race, a decision which was applauded by the fans at the stadium.
When asked why she did to toe that line, Okagbare opined that despite the unfairness of the rules of the competition which had seen athletes being disqualified without warning, they must be respected.
“I watched some of the races today and felt like some people were giving a lot of red cards which were not fair.
“I’m not saying this because they gave me one. My false start was there and I was wishing for a miracle for them to allow me.
“I quickly thought they would want a show between me and Marie Ta Lou (Cote d’ Ivoire) and they would just give me a warning as I feel like that race was like a final already. I thought they would call me back but no.
“I would have stayed there and insisted that I must run whether they like it or not.
“But I have to respect protocol. I am a professional athlete and I have to be professional because it can happen anywhere.
“I don’t have series of false starts in my career. So that one was my third warning in the history of my career.
“So it has happened and that was it. I think somehow a little unfairness happen to a lot of people.
“Three people were given a red card earlier in the day. It is a final race, let these people run. But it is the competition and they are enforcing their own rule and we have to respect it,’ Okagbare told SportingLife.ng.
She left the Team Nigeria camp at the Africa Games for Zurich where she will be participating in the final leg of the IAAF Diamond League which gets underway at Letzigrund Stadium on Thursday evening.