London – Nigeria is already late in beginning its preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to be hosted by Brazil, an official of the National Sports Commission (NSC) has said.
Patrick Ekeji, the NSC Director-General, said this at a reception hosted by Dr Dalhatu Tafida, the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK, on Saturday in London. The reception was in honour of the Nigerian Paralympians at the London 2012 Paralympic Games which ends on Sunday.
“We have already started out late in the preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympics,’’ Ekeji is quoted to say.
Ekeji, however, appealed to the federal government to use the negatives of the current situation to achieve the positive and turn around the sports sector for good.
“We should use the disappointment of the able-bodied athletes at the Olympic Games and the success of the physically-challenged athletes at the Paralympics to transform the sports sector.
“Yes, the able-bodied Olympians must have disappointed the nation, but the physically-challenged Paralympians have made us proud.
“But right now we need the political will to develop and transform sports. Winning medals these days at international meets has become more challenging with the emerging technological innovations,’’ he said.
Ekeji, who expressed concern over the obsolete training facilities the physically-challenged athletes were saddled with, called for a total overhaul of the current facilities.
He commended the Nigerian Paralympians for doing the nation proud and for their “highest sense of dedication and patriotism.’’
Dr Dalhatu Tafida, the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK, in his remarks said the Paralympians’ performance was commendable and was worth emulating.
“The uniqueness of the London Games lies in the fact that the Paralympians broke four world records when compared to the poor performance of our able-bodied athletes at the just-concluded Olympics,’’ the envoy said.
He noted that the Paralympians had always showed commitment and dedication and had never disappointed the nation at any of their competitions outside and within the shores of the country.
“This feat is not only worth of celebrating but also serves as a lesson for us to look beyond their disabilities,’’ the envoy added.
Ms Gloria Anozie, a gold medallist in the women’s +82.50 kg category of powerlifting suggested that government must show commitment in the development of the special sports.
“We have never disappointed Nigeria in any of our outings. It is time government stopped paying lip service to the welfare of those with disabilities and treat us as equals with our able-bodied counterparts,’’ she said.
Four of the Paralympians who broke world records in powerlifting are Esther Onyema, Joy Oyelapo, Yakubu Adesokan and Shade Ayo.