Isau Ogunkunle, a para-athlete from Ogun state.

By Olanrewaju Akojede

Tokyo Olympics-bound para-table tennis player, Isau Ogunkunle, on Friday appealed to the Ogun government to support its Olympics-bound athletes with training grants.

According to the 35-year-old para-table tennis star, such financial support would further motivate them to excel.

Unlike Ogun counterpart, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos had awarded special grants totalling N20 million to six Olympics-bound athletes based in Lagos.

The grants which would aid the athletes’ preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Games was given to Team Lagos captain and Paralympian, Ahmed Koleosho, badminton player Anuoluwapo Opeyori and four others.

Ogunkunle pointed out that the gesture would motivate the athletes to perform better and pledge their loyalty to the state.

“The cash support by Lagos State government is a good initiative. This is what we athletes like to be seeing.

“Athletes are heroes of both the state and the country, so having support from both levels of government is not a bad idea.

“So, I will appreciate it if our state governor, Dapo Abiodun, can also do the same for the state’s athletes going to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as well.

“This is because it will go a long way in boosting our morale.

“We are only three that qualified for the Olympics from Ogun. That is me, Lateefat Tijani and Dorcas Adesokan,” he said.

Ogunkunle said the Ogun athletes heading to the Tokyo Games would be representing both the country and the state.

“I am sure that we will not disappoint our country Nigeria, as well as our respective states, at the Olympics. We have a target of winning gold medals, which I am sure is within our reach,” he said.

The para-table tennis player also grateful for the support in the past from the government, especially the reward they got after the 20th National Sports Festival (NSF) in Benin.

“We know it can get better for us as we look forward to the state government for more support because as para-athletes, we have a short time to spend as sportsmen,” he said.

However, he commended the training facilities provided by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, adding that the national camp atmosphere was conducive enough for the athletes.

“As athletes, we aim to get to the peak of our career in sports and to get on the podium as a gold medalist in front of the whole world,” he said.

NAN