By Millicent Ifeanyichukwu
Lagos – With the Rio 2016 Paralympics ended on Sunday in Brazil, Nigerians expecting the arrival of Team Nigeria to the Games have urged the Federal Government to welcome the athletes bounteously.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the team had won a total of 12 medals, including eight gold, two silver and two bronze to place 16th on the medals log.
Nigeria had at the London 2012 Games secured 13 medals, including six gold, five silver and two bronze.
Andrew Ekanem, a former national coach of Nigeria Weightlifting Federation (NWF), says the team deserved a bounteous reception because they achieved what the able-bodied athletes could not.
Ekanem told NAN on Sunday in Lagos that the country’s athletes deserved to be celebrated on their arrival from the Games and appreciated for the medals haul.
“Their performance 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,’’ the former coach said.
He said the reward for the Para-athletes would set a good platform to encourage more physically challenged 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.
NAN reports that Team Nigeria took part in Powerlifting, Para-table tennis and Para-athletics at the Games which held from Sept. 5 to Sept. 18 in Brazil.