By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Olympian and Commonwealth Games Champion, Lawrence Iquaibom has decried the high cost of weightlifting equipment, saying the problem has stifled the development of the sport in the country.
Iquaibom in a recent chat with journalists, expressed determination to leverage his international connections to make such pieces of equipment available and accessible at subsidised rate if he is given the mantle of leadership in the upcoming Nigeria Weightlifting Federation (NWF) elections where new board members will emerge.
The retired Director of Sports in Akwa Ibom Sports Council, disclosed that “Weightlifting Sport is not evenly developed across the Country mainly because of the high cost of its equipment. Most states in Nigeria cannot afford these equipment and this has rendered some of our coaches redundant.
“By God’s grace, I will try to use our international reach to bring in these equipment at a subsidized rate for the benefit of our country. This will enhance talent discovery and promote healthy competition for improved performance”.
“We will also ensure the hosting of regular zonal competitions especially in the youth and junior categories. Periodic training camp for our national teams will also be amongst our topmost priorities”.
Iquaibom also explained what could be done to revive the dwindling fortune of weightlifting as a sport and what must be put in place to ensure that coaches are kept busy and new lifters are discovered.
“Lots have to be done in this area, like the training and retraining of our coaches on talent identification and nurturing, as well as the advancement commission of our international bodies”.
“We must also work closely with zonal offices for regular intra and inter zonal championships”, he added.
The well-travelled sports administrator rued the absence of Nigerian weightlifters at the recently concluded Tokyo 2020 Olympics but he thumbed up the performance of athletes who took part in the recent National Weightlifting Championship which was held in Uyo where new lifters were discovered.
He also stated that the championship afforded athletes that took part at the last National Sports Festival in Benin City, Edo state, another opportunity to test the level of their preparedness for upcoming competitions.
“The successes recorded to us in the federation was encouraging. We thank God that we were able to achieve our main objectives of the championship including bringing these athletes together for the enhancement of cohesion, evaluate their current form and sharpen them up for the upcoming commonwealth championship.
“The competition also afforded us the opportunity to educate our lifters and officials on the dangers of drugs in sports and how to avoid being a victim. We thank the National Anti-Doping Committee for sending their personnel to handle an education seminar to that effect”.
Iquaibom who is vying for office of the President, NWF, thanked the Minister of Youth and Sports, Chief Sunday Dare for the opportunity given him to serve as a member of the Caretaker Committee of the Federation and added that the knowledge accrued from the enviable position will be of significant help in his future endeavours.