By Cosmas Okoli
The London 2012 Paralympic Games have finally begun, and Nigerian athletes with disabilities are poised to thrill the world along with athletes with disabilities from other countries.
I cannot vouch for the preparation of the Nigerian Paralympics contingent, but I can assure you that, these Nigerian disabled will come home with medals; including gold medals.
I am pretty certain that about 4 billion global TV audience and millions of life audience will bear witness to the abundant athletic talent of Nigerians with disabilities. Imagine the mileage Nigeria will gain from this anticipated successful outing.
According to The Sun Newspaper report (not Nigerian Sun Newspaper); the Paralympics expects to get a total worldwide TV audience of four billion. Broadcasters in more than 100 countries have snapped up deals with organizers after rave reviews from the London’s Olympics.
International Paralympic Committee President, Sir Philip Craven, said that the huge number expected to tune in over ten days would smash the 3.8billion viewing audience of Beijing 2008.
Ten new deals covering the US, Canada, South and Central America, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Ireland and Iran, have been added to 36 existing broadcast contracts. However, I do not know if any Nigerian broadcaster is among the broadcasters’ from100 countries who have signed deals with the organizers to broadcast the Paralympics.
If not, then we are missing out because that will entail that only those of us with access to the cable networks that have the rights to transmit the London 2012 Paralympics will be able to witness the expected heartwarming, glorious outing of our indomitable athletes with disabilities.
During the Sydney 2000 Paralympic games where I lead the Nigerian contingent, I recall with nostalgia, that while Nigeria was sweeping the medals and Nigeria’s National anthem was being played repeatedly, I was filled with an indescribable joy, pride and a sense of fulfillment.
Unfortunately, most Nigerians at home did not witness these unprecedented accomplishments; which would have lifted their spirits after the poor showing of our non disabled Olympians 2 weeks earlier.
At this juncture, I wish to call on all Nigerians to hook up to the London 2012 Paralympic Games as they are sure to be glad they did. For the members of the fourth estate of the realm, may I enjoin you to please give Nigerians a treat by ensuring good coverage of the Paralympic Games.
I know some of you who would like to attend the games and cover it live are probably unable to find sponsorship.
Whatever the case may be, in this information age, you will not lack materials to write about Nigerian athletes’ performance at the games if you want to. Please, let us give these athletes the support they deserve as they fight for medals and honour.
President Goodluck Jonathan will be proud of these athletes who have consistently do this nation proud in all their international engagements. Mr. President Sir, may I appeal to you to find time to welcome and honour these athletes when they return with medals.
You will do well to also use the opportunity to right the wrongs of the Obasanjo administration that failed to honour the Paralympians who represented Nigeria in Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games after winning a record 7 gold medals, 1 silver and 5 bronze medals.
A record that has not been broken nor equaled in the last 12 years and is not likely to be broken nor equaled at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. You are all in for a treat. Enjoy.