15th July, 2011
The team of 43 competitors and 18 officials that represented the country in the last special Olympics event held in Athens, Greece has returned to the country with laurels.
The contingent won a total of 27 medals, comprising nine gold, nine silver and nine bronze medals, at the event.
Telecoms operator, Globacom, sponsored some of the athletes to the event where 180 countries competed for medals in track and field games for 10 days. The Glo sponsored team contributed to the haul of medals.
They include Tejumola Ogunlela who won a silver medal in Aquatics and Olu Imaferame Jeffrey who won two bronze medals in the single and doubles badminton contest at the Olympics.
At a special reception held for the sports men and women at Vigeo Centre in Ikoyi, Lagos, the Chairman of the Board of the Nigerian Special Olympics Committee, Mr. Victor Osibodu ,presented a plaque of honour to Globacom.
Parents of the athletes were effusive in praise of Globacom for empowering their wards and giving them the opportunity to compete on the world stage. Mr. Bode Ogunlela, father of Miss Tejumola Ogunlela, said Globacom has done well and has contributed to the joy and self esteem of the young but intellectually challenged sportsmen and women. â€œNow they know the society appreciates themâ€ he said.
The Special Olympics is dedicated to athletes with intellectual challenges; among them are those with Autism, Downâ€™s Syndrome and several forms of learning disorders.
Osibodu, while commending the sponsors of the team, said the contribution of firms like Globacom has helped to promote Special Olympics in Nigeria.
The contingent left on 24 June and returned on 7 July. Before the team departed , Globacomâ€™s Head of Customer Care, Maria Svensson, had encouraged the athletes to excel in the games but asserted that it was not compulsory that the team members won medals.
He said that the fact that they were courageous enough to step out to compete in spite of their challenges was commendable. â€œYou are already champions for daring to step out to compete on the world stage; your spirit and your courage have made you winnersâ€.
This yearâ€™s event saw over 12,000 athletes from around the world converging on Athens to participate in 27 different sporting disciplines over a ten-day period.
The 2011 Special Olympics also bears a special significance. It took place, without the presence of its founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who died two years ago.
The Special Olympics was founded in 1968.