By Anayo Okoli
UMUAHIA—WIFE of Abia State governor, Mrs. Nkechi Ikpeazu says that she picked interest in the promotion of para-badminton sports to enable Nigerians win international recognition by winning medals at the Olympics.
Mrs. Ikpeazu spoke during the third edition of the Nkechi Ikpeazu National Open Para badminton Championships at the Umuahia Township Stadium. She then urged sports philanthropists and corporate sponsors not to allow the current poor economic situation to dampen their support for the development of sports in the country.
According to her, as a new sports event in the Olympics Games, with adequate support and preparation, Nigeria can get laurels from para-badminton.
“The current economic situation is seriously affecting sports development in Nigeria. We pray it will end soon so that our sporting community will once again thrive.
“Nevertheless I urge conglomerate and sports philanthropists to see this period as a challenge and do their best to keep our games alive.
“Apart from this event I often sponsor our disabled athletes to several sports events all over the country. I am also a major sponsor of Abia Angels Female premier League Club. Sports is in my blood and I love it”, Mrs. Ikpeazu said.
In his remarks, the Abia State Commissioner for sports, Chief Chinwe Nwanganga commended the governor’s wife for her interest in sports and urged her to maintain it.
The National Coordinator of the Para-badminton Association of Nigeria, Mr. Samuel Ekeoma noted that the competition has afforded the athletes the opportunity to stay fit while evaluating their performance against other athletes.
Mr. Ekeoma stressed the need for more support to be given to Para-badminton and other disabled sports and commended Mrs. Ikpeazu for her interest in supporting them. He also called on corporate bodies, individuals and state governments to emulate Mrs. Ikpeazu.
Ekeoma said that para-sports have remained the leading source of International laurels and recognition for Nigeria given the consistency of athletes in the various track, field and indoor events and urged the Federal Government and the Nigeria Olympic Committee to give more attention to the games.
The three day tournament attracted athletes from 11 states, including Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, Kano, Kaduna, Imo, Delta, Edo, Kwara and host Abia.
Reigning champion of Men’s sitting category, Dada Dixon from Delta State won the star match. A total of 26 winners in various categories of Gold, Silver and Bronze got medals with cash prizes.