Gold medalist at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Ese Brume, says competing alongside Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguenor in the long jump event at the Rio Olympic Games would be a great inspiration for her.
Brume leapt a distance of 6.83m to seal her place in Rio last month, beating the qualifying distance of 6.70m set by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) for the country’s female long jumpers. She is currently at the Abuja camp putting finishing touches to her preparations for the Games. The new mark of 6.83m is Brume’s career best, but the Delta State-born athlete says she could improve on it when placed side by side with top athletes in Rio.
African track queen, Okagbare, is expected to add the long jump to her events in Rio and Brume says her presence would be a source of inspiration for her.
“I am not going to Rio to compete against Blessing Okagbare, but it will be a great inspiration for me to see her in the long jump. Okagbare is my role model in sports and I always copy one or two things from her whenever she participates in the jumps,” Brume said in Abuja yesterday.
Brume returned to her strides earlier this year after a huge setback owing to injury, which saw her missing out of the medal chase at the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville. She was one of Nigeria’s celebrated stars in 2014, winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow before beating all contenders to grab the top spot at the African Senior Athletics Championship in Morocco. Before then, she won three medals at the 2013 African Junior Athletics Championships in Mauritius.
Twenty years ago, Nigeria and indeed the West Africa sub region won her first individual Olympics gold medal in a track and field event through Chioma Ajunwa at Atlanta ’96.
Ajunwa, an ex-footballer, made history with a jump length of 7.12 meters (on her first attempt) in the final.At Beijing 2008 Olympics, Blessing Okagbare jumped 6.91 meters to grab a bronze medal, losing the gold to Brazil’s Maureen Higa Maggi (7.04m) and silver to Russia’s Tatyana Lebedeva (6.97m).
For Okagbare or Brume to win a medal of any colour in the long jump event in Rio, they must be ready for the stiff challenge from the likes of USA’s Brittney Reese, who won the long jump gold at the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championship in Portland, USA, with a leapt of 7.22 meters.
Other top contenders for medals in the women’s long jump will be Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic, who set a national indoor record of 7.00m at Portland 2016, and Australia’s Brooke Stratton, who had already surpassed the seven-metre barrier outdoors this year with 7.05m. Others like Janay DeLoach are waiting to pull a surprise in Rio.
“I am fully set for the challenges ahead because the Olympics Games is only for the best athletes in the world and to win a medal means one has to be in his or her best,” a confident Brume said yesterday.