By Amaechi Agbo
The Federal Government has charged the Para-powerlifting athletes to win more medals for Nigeria in Africa Games in Morocco and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Olusade Adesola gave the charge while hosting the para-powerlifters who returned to the country after participating in the 2019 World Para-powerlifting Championship held Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan.
In the reception held at the media centre of the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja, the Permanent Secretary eulogised the heroics of the athletes and thanked them for doing the country proud in the championship.
He assured them of the FG continued support to ensuring that they emerged victorious in both Africa Games in Morocco which starts next month and the 2020 Olympics which will commence in less than a year in Japan.
“Following your meritorious services and the medals you won at the just concluded 2019 World Para-power lifting Championship held Kazakhstan from 12th to 20th July, 2019, we are grateful. We appreciate you for doing us proud.
“Your success has further demonstrated what Nigeria and indeed Nigerians can achieve when given the necessary support. We are indeed proud of you and we urge you to consolidate on your achievements.
“This is not a time to rest on your ores, rather it is a time to go higher in the ladder of your achievements. We are indeed proud of you. And we will continue to motivate and support you but you will know that to whom much is given, much is expected.
“You did well in Kazakhstan by challenging the whole world and came back second despite having lesser athletes in number compared to the eventual winners, China. With just 14 athletes you came second against China with over 40 athletes. Even by number alone, it is obvious but you were not intimidated.
“We will continue to support you to win more medals in Morocco as well as Tokyo. You have proven the old saying that there is ability in disability.”
On her part, the President, Para-powerlifting Federation, Queen Uboh, thanked the ministry for its support to the athletes and the federation but called for greater support from the private sector.
“We went to Kazakhstan and came back champions. The 8 medals we won were made possible because of the support of the ministry and we are grateful. We appreciate your support and on our part, we will continue to justify your confidence in us.
“I want to thank our sponsors who have been with us. It will interest you to know that the athletes attended this year’s championship best kitted because our sponsors did their best. We appreciate them.
“We also call for more sponsorship from the private companies. The athletes can achieve more and greater feats with greater support from the private sector. We will go to Morocco and Tokyo to continue our story. We broke records, two world records in Kazakhstan and we are ready to break more records in Morocco and Tokyo.”
The para-powerlifters won a total 8 medals including 3 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze to emerge second behind China in the championship. A total of 708 athletes took part in the championship.