• FG promises support for physically challenged
NIGERIA’S Rio Paralympics heroes and heroines were on Sunday given a heroic welcome back to the country as activities at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja stood still in honour of the first batch of the country’s contingent to the games.
The Nigerian contingent, which had the best outing in recent times in Brazil; winning eight Gold, two Silver and two Bronze medals to emerge the best African contingent on the final medals’ table.
The batch A made up of 20 athletes arrived the airport at about 3:45pm aboard an Emirates Airline flight to a rousing welcome by enthusiastic Nigerians who celebrated their successful outing at the Rio Paralympics.
Receiving the heroes and heroines on behalf of the Minister of Youths and Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung, the acting Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Lukas Mangset, expressed appreciation to the athletes for doing the country proud and assured the entire contingent of a befitting welcome later.
He told the Paralympians that the rousing welcome they saw was a result of their efforts in making Nigeria proud at the 2016 Paralympics Games, which made the country to lead other African contingents at the Games.
“We are celebrating you now because you have done this country proud. We appreciate your individual and collective effort that has placed Nigeria on a very prominent position on the medal table.
“I am happy Nigeria tops Africa continent in the outing and I promise when the others come we shall give the entire team a befitting welcome,” Mangset stated.
Speaking on behalf of the first batch, powerlifting gold medalist, Esther Onyema, declared that they were overwhelmed by the reception they received on arrival and expressed gratitude to Nigerians for their continuous prayers and support before, during and after the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games .
After the reception at the airport, the contingent was driven to the NICON Luxury Hotel in Abuja to lodge.
The second batch of 14 athletes is expected in the country today.
Meanwhile, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, had promised more support for the development of the people living with disabilities in the country with a view to enabling the authorities to discover more talents for future national and international championships.
Speaking while welcoming home the first batch of Team Nigeria contingent to the Rio 2016 Paralympics, the Senate President declared that the physically challenged were endowed with abundant talent, particularly in sports.
He added that, like their able body counterparts, the physically challenged had to be encouraged too to exhibit their sporting talent for the benefit of the country.
Saraki expressed happiness with the performance of the country’s contingent, saying that they really did well in making the country proud.
“We are happy they are back. They did very well; we need to encourage them and engage them, that should be our focus for now,” the Senate President said.
Asked if Federal Government was going to host the victorious athletes, Saraki stated that he was not in a position to confirm that immediately.
“I cannot confirm that right here but I believe as I said that we shall engage them and see what we can do and definitely there must be something for them they have done well and they deserve that, we are proud of them,” he added.