Special Olympics Nigeria Athletes Given Rousing Welcome from World Games

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Special Olympics Nigeria athletes at the welcome reception held in their honour yesterday in Lagos after participating at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, USA

Team Nigeria’s athletes and officials to the Special Olympics Summer World Games in Los Angeles, USA, were given a rousing reception yesterday in Lagos with all the 41 medalists celebrated like true champions.

At the reception which held at the Vigeo Group headquarters on Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, officials of Special Olympics Nigeria rolled out red carpet to welcome the athletes who won a total of 71 medals in the seven Olympic-type sport the country participated in.
Chairman of Special Olympics Nigeria, Mr. Victor Osibodu, described the outing as a very successful one for the athletes.

“It was a successful outing for our athletes. We participated in seven Olympic type sports and won at least a gold medal in all the seven games. This is a very encouraging performance,” stressed the chairman of the body.

He described the performance as better than all previous outings by Team Nigeria’s Special Olympic athletes.

“At the last Games we attended before going to Los Angeles, we brought home a total of 49 medals but this time, we won 36 gold, 22 silver and nine bronze medals. By the time you add the medals in the Ribbon and the Unified Experience, the total will be 71 medals,” enthused Osibodu.

He thanked sponsors of the Special Olympics Nigeria like ExxonMobil Foundation, Coca-Cola Nigeria, the Lagos State Government, GTB, Channels Tv, Caverton Offshore Support Group, Vigeo and several others who made the trip possible for the athletes who are people living with intellectual disabilities.

One of the volunteer coaches who led the Team Nigeria squad to win a silver in the final with South Korea, Michael Ani, described his experience of working with the players as wonderful.

“It was a wonderful experience for me. They were very eager to learn. The most amazing thing about the team was that eight of the players were completely deaf and dumb. When we got to LA, the organizers tested them and confirmed that truly they could not hear nor able to communicate. They gave them hearing aids and the kids were excited by this development,” recalled Ani who plays professional basketball with Neustadt Shooters in Hannover, Germany.

While admitting that he has been working with the kids for several years, Ani insisted that his involvement was a way of giving back something to the society. He was happy that his effort was appreciated by the kids who are born with of disabilities.
Some of the parents present at the reception thanked God for using Special Olympics Nigeria to make their children worthy of representing the country.

The mother of Chukwudi Ezeala, the highest goals scorer of the football tournament with six goals, urged other persons who have children with disabilities not to be discouraged.

“Bring them out to be part of the Special Olympics. There is nothing to be ashamed of. See, my child has gone to America even before we the parents,” she noted.

Another mother, Mrs Chinyere Onwunze, whose daughter Chidalu also won a gold medal
thank God for her success. “It was not easy at the onset. Communicating was difficult but  Special Olympic has changed all that for us now.
Princes Akin-Olugbade, the junior sister of Damola Roberts who won gold also admitted the difficulties she went through having Damola as brother. “I was initially ashamed but as I grew up I just realised that my brother has his potential just like any other person. Now I am very proud of him,” concludes the happy sister of a Special Olympic gold medalist.

Former Super Eagles stars like Daniel Amokachi, Peter Rufai and Emmanuel Babayaro were part of the preparation of the Team Nigeria’s football team.

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