BY BEN EFE,
London – Nigerian power-lifter, Folashade Olufemiayo yesterday set a new world record in the women 75kg power- lifting event of the London 2012 Paralympics Games, but she failed to win the gold medal.
Chinese Fu Toaying won the gold that should have been Olufemiayo’s medal. The cheering crowd rooting for Olufemiayo couldn’t believe she won silver after she lead with her two previous attempts. However, Nigerian officials cried blue murder at the high level politicking, but their ineptitude was also blamed for the loss that left Olufemiayo in a river of tears.
The Chinese officials played a fast one, by having their athlete come first for the final and third lift, when it became clear that Olufemiayo who was scheduled to come out first would win on the final attempt. Taoaying with a body weight of 72.53kg went on to lift 146kg in her final attempt, to set up a near world record; Olufemiayo stepped out and reproduced the 146kg. Officially, after the three attempts the competition was over, but the athletes continued with the battle for supremacy and Olufemiayo lifted 148kg in her final attempt to set a new world record, but it wasn’t going to count.
“That was my gold medal that was given to the Chinese woman. And I would want to say that I’m more than disappointed that this could be happening. I was supposed to come out first for the final lift, but they changed the schedule and made Taoying come out first,” said Olufemiayo, with teary eyes.
However, an international power- lifting official who pleaded anonymity traced Olufemiayo’s ordeal to the lack of tact by Nigerian officials.
“The Chinese coach knew that her girl didn’t stand a chance and she called out first for an increase in weight of 146kg and that was why she had to come out first.
“If the Nigerian officials were thinking they would have increased the weight of their athlete to 147kg for the final attempt, but they didn’t. However, the attempt on 146kg by the Chinese was not a perfect lift that is where I disagree with the judges,” said the official.
Nigerian team doctor, Samuel Ogbodeminu lamented the situation and said that it was an international conspiracy against Nigeria.
“They want to prevent us from winning more medals. The third Chinese lift wasn’t a good one, yet it was allowed. We protested, but it was bound to fail, we are very upset and what could we do.”
Lucy Ejike also failed to win gold under similar circumstances in the women -56kg category on Sunday. That notwithstanding Nigeria’s still tops the power- lifting medal table with 4 gold, 5 silver and one bronze won by veteran Victoria Nneji. In the overall medals table Nigeria is in the 10th position.