Golden Paralympians Await Goodluck's Goodies


Team Nigeria’s contingent to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, returned from to the country on Tuesday, but were shocked that the authorities were not ready to welcome them that day.

The special atheletes, were informed that they would have to wait for days before they would be rewarded for their golden outing at the 2012 Paralympic Games, by Nigeria President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

It’s a case of different strokes for different folks for the Nigerian disabled athletes, owing to the fact that  their counterparts from South Africa, China and Australia, were rewarded with handsome financial rewards about 24 hours after they arrived in their various countries.

Gold medalist, Yakubu Adesokan and his compatriots arrived at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Ikeja, Lagos, to a very low profile reception, unbefitting of a team that brought glory that the so-called ‘able-bodied’ athletes failed to do at the 2012 Olympic Games last month.

Nigeria’s Paralympic team won a total of 13 medals, which included 6 gold, 5 silver and 2 bronze, with  four world records, and they finished in the 22nd position in the world.

In contrast, the ‘able’ Team Nigeria were no where to be found on the London 2012 Olympic medals table, when the Games ended less than a month ago.

In an interview on their arrival, the athletes were unhappy about the shoddy reception accorded them. The athletes said  they deserve to be treated well by the government just like their able-bodied counterparts.

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For Grace Anozie, a gold medallist in the women’s powerlifting +82kg category, “We are looking forward to a more elaborate reception from Mr President when we get to Abuja this weekend.

And after that, we hope they would address the issues hindering the development of Paralympic sports in Nigeria.”

Folasade Oluwafemiayo, a silver medalist in the women’s powerlifting – 75kg category said: “There are a lot of people like I, who would want to go into sports, but they don’t have money. The President must now show interest in our sports. We need to go on coaching courses, we need to train our officials so that we don’t get cheated at international events just like they did to me in London.”

Victoria Nneji, a bronze medalist in the women’s powerlifting -67.5kg category said: “We left for London with an ambition to redeem Nigeria’s image after the disasterous outing of the able-bodied athletes at the Olympics. Now that we have delivered, we expect them to give us the honour that befits our achievements.”

Chituru Nwoaozuzu, a discuss thrower in 57/58 category, said: “Though I did not win any medal in London but I am hopeful that the President would consider the fact that all of us are the same with disability, and he should reward all of us accordingly.

“We all put in our best for the country only that some of us were not as lucky as the others to win medal for the country.”

—Bamidele Olowosagba

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