By Albert Akota
With 29 days to the commencement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare has reassured Olympics Bound- Athletes Elizabeth Anyanacho and Funke Oshonaike that the country was looking forward to celebrating their podium success after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The Minister gave this assurance when he hosted Anyanacho and Oshonaike in his office in Abuja on Thursday. “The next 29 days we will be racing non stop.
I recall when I visited Elizabeth’s camp in Maitama, Abuja, I saw her and two others who are also African champions training. I saw the commitment, dedication and we made commitment to support her which we did almost immediately. We got her adopted on the spot after we made a pitch for her , the adopter proceeded and paid the cash that same day.”
The Minister stated further “Elizabeth is a young, exceptional and extremely promising lady who is almost at the zenith of her career , even if it is just at the African continent level. She earned the ticket to the Olympics as a result of hardwork”.
Speaking on Funke Oshonaike who is making a record 7th appearance at the Olympics, he said “This lady has been terrific and through a lot, any other young person would have given up in this country. she struggled through school and she’s remained committed and has continued to excel accordingly.
We are very proud of you and look forward to a good performance at the Olympics. In an event dominated by Asians, you have proven that you are a special breed.”
On plans to motivate the athletes further, the Minister affirmed “We are going to have a program once team Nigeria list is ready, It’s a 20 minutes documentary on TV stations profiling each of our athletes and their exploits because Nigerians don’t really know what we have .
It’s something we also hope to put on the international media circuit. We need to put the statistics out there about each of our athletes so that the world will know that Nigeria got talents. Like the Americans also say” if you got it you flaunt it.
It will be interesting to flaunt an18 year old who has beaten the African champion and won the African Taekwondo Championships.
I think this will inspire other athletes because this country must not wait until they attain podium performance before we celebrate and validate them. I am glad you’re here to present the gold medal you won at the African Championship.
I have faith that after the Olympics there will be a similar medal to celebrate and that you’ll inspire so many other young people from 15,16,17,18 year olds to partake in any sports for our country.I Congratulate your coach Chika Chukwumerije and encourage him to do more”.
Funke Oshonaike expressed appreciation to the Minister for his efforts at developing sports and taking care of athletes welfare.
“I’m so happy to be here and to say a huge thank you to the Honourable Minister for all that you are doing for our sports.
This is the first time we are having athletes adopted and I know you will do more. Thank you so much and God bless you”