By Ben Efe
Nigeria has a rich record of performance in its participation in the Paralympics games, but that account may take a battering at next year’s London 2012 Paralympic Games as the country’s athletes are lagging behind in their preparations.
In the estimation of the Nigeria Paralympic Committee, Nigerian athletes have potentials to win 16 gold medals and create world records in the process. However, this may be hard in coming as some of the athletes are unable to attend qualification tournaments.
“We have seven athletes in track and field, eight in powerlifting and four in table tennis who are gold medal potentials. But we need to prepare these athletes for the London Games by attending qualification tournaments.
“As we are talking there is one in Surrey, England we have penciled down. We were supposed to have made some payments, but we haven’t and this is not good for our participation at the Paralympic Games,” Dr Frank Thorpe, the general-secretary of the NPC lamented in Lagos.
He added that all activities geared towards putting the athletes in a competition mood have been put on hold since there were no funds to drive the process.
“There are trials to be done for the athletes, we have to camp them and run competitions. But there is nothing we can do for now since we have received any funding from the national sports commission.”
Nigerian paralympians have always done the country proud by winning gold medals, which their able-bodied counterparts failed to win at the Olympics. Nigeria started participating in the Paralympics Games in 1992 with athletes like Adeoye Ajibola winning two gold in track and Monday Emoghavwe
who is currently president of the NPC winning one in powerlifting. Nigeria has won a total of 22 gold medals in the games.