By Jerry Asiegbu
Former disabled athlete, Aliu Adebayo, has decried the attitude of state governments in attaching unequal values to medals won by physically challenged athletes and their able-bodied counterparts. Adebayo, who won a gold medal in 100m at the All Africa Games in South Africa in 1999, lamented a situation where gold medal won by a disabled athlete is described as a disabled gold, adding that this attitude has helped to kill their fighting spirit and morale more than their physical challenges.
Adebayo, who is now a coach, spoke to Sports Vanguard Monday at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos. He said the authorities give a colourful reception to able athletes who win bronze medals, but hardly receive disabled athletes who win gold in their different events. â€œWe feel bad about this and hope God will intervene on our behalfâ€, he said. He added that what they are doing now is for love of fatherland and not the money that comes from it as money hardly comes.
The Ogun State-employed coach counselled state governments to come out of deceit in sports and finance it for results. He said the appearance of Nigerian athletes in new, colourful outfits at major international events gives the impression that all is well at home whereas before and after the events no one cares about the athletesâ€™ welfare. Adebayo, who also won a silver medal at the Afro-Asian Games in Tunisia in 2000 called on state governments to put in place a clear programme for sports development instead of the fire brigade approach to National Sports Festivals which he said after, â€œone goes home to sleepâ€ till another Festival.