Presidential Largess for Okagbare

Okagbare with Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan honours and rewards Blessing Okagbare for her feat in winning medals at the just concluded World Athletics Championship in Moscow

By Vincent Nzemeke  |  Sep. 23, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, on September 11, lifted the spirit of Blessing Okagbare, a Nigerian, female athlete, by rewarding her feat at the recently concluded World Athletic Championship in Moscow.

Okagbare, who won a silver medal in long jump and a bronze in the 200 metres race at the championship got N3 million while Daniel Esebinimo, her coach, was rewarded with N3.5 million. The duo will also be honoured with national awards at the next award ceremony.

While presenting the cheques to Okagbare and her coach, President Goodluck Jonathan said the country was proud of people like them who brought honour to the country through their achievements. “Today is a day that we are all celebrating this young lady, Blessing Okagbare.  We are celebrating success, we are celebrating dedication, and we are celebrating patriotism. Sports, we know, is one key event in our country and globally. The success of a nation in sports is a key thing that helps to project that country. Nigeria has been known as a sporting nation, but we slid off for some time. We are lucky that we are building up today. I believe that with young ladies and men like Blessing Okagbare, Nigeria will get back to where we belong and even go further.”

Jonathan also challenged sports administrators and athletes in the country to ensure that Nigeria gets gold medals at the 2016 Olympics games billed for Brazil. He added that the poor performance of Nigerian athletes in past Olympic games would no longer be tolerated. “We have taken a decision that in the next Olympics, we must get medals, gold medals. In the last Olympics, we could not get any medal, except in the Paralympics that we were able to shine. It was a bad story.

In a brief remark at the presentation ceremony, Bolaji Abdullahi, minister of sports, said the recent success stories of Blessing and other athletes in the country are the results of the huge investments in sports development by the Jonathan administration.

“Nigeria is again becoming a force to reckon with in sports. In athletics, just like in football and weightlifting, we have become the number one nation in Africa. Never in the history of Africa athletics has a nation been a winner of the senior, junior and youth championship at the same time until Nigeria achieved that this year.”

Emmanuel Uduaghan, Delta state governor, who was also at the event, said he was delighted to see Okagbare, who is an indigene of his state, honoured by the president. “What’s exciting to me today is the personal recognition by Mr. President of Blessing’s efforts. Whatever you’ve given materially, to me, is not the major thing. The major thing is that she is being nationally recognised by Mr. President himself and that is very important.”

Responding, Okagbare said the president’s desire for the country’s athletes to win gold medals at the next Olympics could be achieved through hard work and adequate support. “Well, I always try to work very hard with the support of people around me.  There is no magic in sports. As much as they give to us, the athletes are ready to work hard. We will work with what you give to us and whatever comes out of it, you should accept.”

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