Umuahia – Technical Director, Nigeria Para-Power Lifting Federation, Sam Ekeoma, said on Wednesday the federation had intensified efforts to ensure power-lifters from the country performed creditably during Brazil 2016 Paralympic Games.
Ekeoma in Umuahia said that qualifiers had begun in 2013, adding that athletes from Nigeria who participated in such qualifiers did well to qualify in various categories.
“In February last year Team Nigeria Power Lifting were in Dubai where six of our athletes qualified.
“Then in November last year too we went to Malaysia where we also qualified all the anticipated athletes that we are hoping to feature in the Brazil 2016 Paralympic Games.
“This year too, IPC (World Power lifting Championship) is a must whether you attended qualifier last year or not. That place determines who plays in the paralympic game.”
Ekeoma said that 2014 would be a very busy one for the federation as it had series of championships and other activities needed to keep the athletes in shape.
He said that one of the major events included Power-lifting World Championship, which according to him, is a prerequisite for any athlete or country that would participate in the paralympic games in 2016.
“This year we have chained programme that will dovetail us to Brazil 2016 Paralympic Games. Right now we are thinking of how we can take our athletes to Hungary later this January.
“After that the major task now is to ensure that our athletes are ready for Power lifting World Championship coming up in Dubai in April.
“So immediately we are back from Hungary this month we’ll be thinking of going into camping at least for two months before we move to that world championship.’’
He said funding was the greatest challenge faced by the federation and appealed to well meaning Nigerians and corporate organisations to assist the federation to ensure good preparation.
“Anything that National Sports Commission (NSC) doesn’t do for sports in Nigeria mostly we the special sports find it difficult to do.
“So, it’s only the little that the NSC was able to give to us that we managed.
“So the challenge we are having is that the public has refused to associate with the power-lifting team which have become the engine room of medal haul for Nigeria in any international games, especially in Olympics.
“In the last Olympics 2012 Nigeria got nothing in the games by the able counterpart. It was only the power-lifting team that redeemed the image of Nigeria.
“The whole medals won were by power lifting except one bronze from one of our disable athletes in athletics.
“So why wont the public assist us, why won’t they come to associate with us. It is a game that when you associate with it you associate with success.
“That’s why I am appealing to the public to help the NSC to ensure that sports become what they should be in Nigeria.”
Ekeoma said that 17 athletes out of the 20 the country wished to parade had qualified in their various categories, adding that the remaining three athletes would strive to qualify in 2014. (NAN)