By; AYO OJEDOKUN, Lagos
Nigerian athletes to the just concluded maiden African Deaf Athletics Championship held in Kenya, gave a good account of themselves as they won 2 gold, 5 silver and 1 bronze to place second behind the host country, Kenya with Ethiopia coming third.
Receiving the athletes on arrival in the country, Secretary General of Nigeria Deaf Sports Federation, Lukman Agbabiaka stated that the athletes who were self sponsored for the championship needs to be rewarded by government and corporate organisations to encourage them win more laurels for the country in future competitions.
According to him, the five athletes comprising of four males and one female namely; Tope Olaniyan, Uche Nwabuenu, Egbo Obinna, Badmus Nurudeen and Assurance Omoria under the guidance of Coach Divine Jemirigbe has shown that with little support Nigeria Deaf will not only rule the continent but the World in sports.
” We’re proud of what our athletes did in Kenya. They went to the East African country on self sponsorship and came second. It’s necessary that government and corporate Nigeria give more financial encouragement to the deaf because we have athletes that can win laurels for the country.
“Right now, there are other major tournaments lined up and we need support for our athletes to attend them and put Nigeria’ s name in the World Sports map”, he stressed.
He also expressed surprise that nobody from the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has deemed it fit to welcome the athletes officially which will make them proud of being Nigerians even as he appealed to the Sports Ministry to consider including deaf sports in the next National Youth Games.
“All we’ re saying is that these five athletes need to be rewarded to give them sense of belonging and it’s surprising that up till now, no official from the Sports Ministry has deemed it fit to welcome them as a source of encouragement”, he lamented.
A total of 12 countries participated in the championship namely; Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Algeria, Mauritius, Uganda, Libya, Cameroon, Botswana, Zanzibar and Mozambique.