As Nigerians await the return of Team Nigeria from the Rio Paralympic Games, a former national coach of the Nigeria Weightlifting Federation, Andrew Ekanem, has called on the Federal Government to properly reward the athletes.
Team Nigeria won 12 medals – eight gold medals, two silver medals and two bronze medals – to emerge 16th on the medals log.
Nigeria had at the London 2012 Games secured 13 medals – six gold medals, five silver medals and two bronze medals.
Ekanem said the team deserved a bounteous reception because they achieved what the able-bodied athletes could not.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Sunday that the country’s athletes deserved to be celebrated on their arrival from the Games and appreciated for the medals haul.
Ekanem said, “Their performance is simply creditable; these are a set of athletes living with physical disabilities but committed their time and energy to training in spite of their challenges.
“Now they have invested their time and energy to bring glory to the nation, therefore it is necessary to in return celebrate and reward them very well.
“They won the medals without any of them getting involved in any drug issue, thereby upholding the integrity of Nigeria by all standards.”
He said the reward for the athletes would encourage more physically challenged Nigerians to develop their individual skills in available sports.
“Everybody is waiting to see how the government will treat these athletes who have globally shown to the world that Nigeria has abundant talents.
“Good reward for the athletes will attract more physically challenged persons to build careers in Para-sports to contribute their quota to Nigeria’s sport development,” Ekanem said.
According to him, there are a large number of such persons shying away from getting into sports because of being addressed as disabled.