Nigeria’s contingent to the recently concluded 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago is lamenting over what it termed ‘cold’ reception accorded them by the federal government, despite their brilliant performance at the Games.

At the end of hostilities in Trinidad and Tobago, Team Nigeria finished in fifth position with eight medals made up of six gold and two silver medals behind Africa’s best performing nation, South Africa, who finished fourth with seven gold, six silver, and seven bronze.

While the South Africans were given warm reception on their return to Johannesburg, the Nigerians were dispatched from the airport in Abuja without any form of recognition by the government.

The ‘cold’ reception is not going down well with the athletes and their officials. Speaking with The Guardian, yesterday, one of the team’s officials said such ‘cold’ reception is capable of demoralising the young athletes.

“The Super Falcons were celebrated by all Nigerians despite not making it to the quarterfinal at the FIFA Women’s World Cup co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. They came back home empty-handed, yet they were received and rewarded by the Presidency. The Sports Ministry also celebrated them.

“On the contrary, the main stream of our sports, which we call the future of Nigeria’s sports came from Trinidad and Tobago with six gold and two silver medals, and nobody was on ground to welcome us. Till now, there is no form of recognition from the sports ministry and the federal government. It is sad,” the official stated.

Speaking further, the official said: “Tell me why most of these young athletes won’t switch nationality to other countries when their colleagues, who did the nation proud, were not recognised?

“In Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria was the best performed team in terms of statistics. It might interest you to know that, on the last day of the competition, Nigeria National Anthem was played three times after our athletes mounted the podium to receive their gold medals.

“It was the last anthem that was played to wrap up the Games. As we left the airport in Abuja to our respective homes, I could see the sign of disappointed all over the face of the athletes after they were was left in their own shadows.

“Even the Permanent Secretary and Director of Sports in the Ministry of Youth and Sports could not welcome them not to talk of hosting them. That is not the best way to encourage upcoming stars,” he stated.

Among Nigeria’s gold medalists at the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago were Destiny Agbo, who claimed the first gold medal and made history by winning the first-ever Para gold medal in Women’s Discus Throw – F42-44 / F61-64. Agbo defeated England’s Bibi Jackson to win the gold.

Samuel Ogazi also won the men’s 400m gold medal with a time of 46.99 secs, which was almost a full second ahead of the silver medallist, Austin Malachi, of Guyana (47.97secs) and England’s Beck Alexander (48.20secs).

Perhaps, the biggest celebration for Team Nigeria was the New Games Record set by Faith Okwose in the women’s 100m final. She blazed her way into the record books at the Hasely Crawford Stadium with an impressive 11.26secs to capture the gold medal. Okwose’s path to victory began in the semifinals, when she ran 11.42secs to surpass the previous Games record. No official of the Sports Ministry was willing to speak on the issue, yesterday.

Source link