THE superlative performance of Nigeria’s representatives at the just concluded 2016 Paralympics Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is worthy of great commendation by all Nigerians. The government and people of Nigeria should show great appreciation for their wonderful accomplishments.
The resilience of our athletes in the face of adversity and setting new records is, indeed, in tandem with the ‘can do’ spirit of Nigerians. Some Nigerian athletes broke world records in their events. They include Roland Ezuruike, Paul Kehinde, Lauretta Onye, Josephine Orji, Flora Ugwunwa, Lucy Ejike and Bose Omolayo.
Nigeria got six gold medals in Power-lifting and two others in Shot-put and Javelin. That the Dream Team Paralympians won 12 medals, comprising 8 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze; and placed 17 on the overall medals’ table, is a great achievement.
Also, their topping all African teams at the global sports fiesta is worth celebrating. It is equally commendable that their Rio outing is a great improvement on their London 2012 performance. We believe they will do more in Tokyo 2020, in Japan. Their consistency in winning laurels for the country is due to hard work. For bringing great honour to Nige- ria, these patriotic Nigerians and their worthy handlers should be honoured and handsomely rewarded by the Federal Government.
It is good that President Muhammadu Buhari has lauded the athletes and of- ficials of the team for doing the country proud. Although the team was given a red carpet reception on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, by officials of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, we call on the president to give them a grand presidential reception.
The gallant team and their handlers need the support and encouragement of the government and indeed all Nigerians to spur them to do more in future outings. Let the government reward all the athletes, who made the country proud in the various sports at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brazil.
We salute the House of Representatives for promising to donate N18 million to the victorious team. We call on other Nigerians and corporate organizations to honour our worthy Paralympians. Giving them honour and rewards will make them excel in future outings.
The Paralympians have proved that being physically challenged is not a barrier to sporting achievements and indeed any achievement in life. They deserve more support. The government and those in charge of sports in the country should take paralympic sports seriously. The paralympian games should be encouraged and further developed.
The Dream Team Olympians that won one bronze and other Nigerians should learn a lot of lesson from the tenacity, determination and hard work of the Paralympians. Despite their physical challenges, these Nigerians went ahead to bring laurels to the fatherland.
Their success story is inspiring. For our representatives to do well at Tokyo 2020 in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, there is the need for early and serious preparations. We cannot win laurels in any global sporting event by mere wishful thinking. Our Paralympians won laurels at the Rio Games because they worked harder.
We, therefore, call on corporate bodies to show great interest in sponsoring the training of our athletes for such competitions like the Olympics. We say this be- cause government alone cannot do it. Besides, sports development cannot be left in the hands of government alone. Let our sports development start from the primary schools so that we can discover sports talents early enough and groom them for future competitions. Sports should also be encouraged in our secondary and tertiary institutions. This is the only way our nation’s sports can be fully developed. We congratulate the team and their esteemed officials for a great outing.