13th September, 2012
Despite a glorious outing recorded by Team Nigeria at the just concluded 2012 Paralympic Games held in London, Nigeria would have won more medals if more qualified athletes had been given opportunities to participate at the multi-sports championship.
This disclosure was made by Gbolahan Olaiya, a disable shot put thrower who was dropped from the London trip despite winning one gold and one silver medal at the World Paralympic Championship held in Dubai in June
Speaking in an interview with P.MSports on Tuesday at the Nigeria Instute for Sports, NIS, in Lagos, the Imo State athlete said: “That my colleagues won 13 medals which includes 6 gold, 5 silver and 2 bronze at the Paralympic Games in London is a mean feat. Our target before the Games to win at least 10 gold medals but because some of us were denied opportunities to go for the Games even with our qualification, the country was denied the chance of topping the medals table in Africa.”
While reflecting on the lost chance, Olaiya said: “We have some Discuss throwers in class 57/58 for men, that qualified with good records in Tunisia but were not allowed to go for the Games because the National Sports Commission, NSC, felt they would not win medal.
“Also, there are some dwarfs among us that would have made the medal class in shot put and javelin in London, but they were dropped from Team Nigeria. This really affected our medal haul.”
On whether they are discouraged to compete for Nigeria in future tourneys, Olaiya opined that they are still optimistic to represent the country in future major championship, saying that “ Our mission now is to continue to train well and see if we would be called upon to represent the country at the upcoming Commonwealth Games in 2014 and the All Africa Games in 2015.”
A 29-man Team Nigeria contingent arrived the country on Tuesday afternoon with a very low profile reception, unbefitting of a team that brought glory to Nigeria.