Succour has come the way of 11 Nigerian athletes ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo after they were captured in the latest International Olympic Committee scholarship scheme.
Fast rising 100 metres hurdler and reigning Commonwealth Gold medallist, Oluwatobiloba Ayomide Amusan, headlines the list and Portugal-based table tennis star, Aruna Quadri.
The deal, brokered by the Nigeria Olympic Committee, also includes Commonwealth Games Wrestling champion in the 53kg category, Odunayo Adekuoroye; Blessing Oborodudu (Wrestling); Nathaniel Glory Onome (Athletics); and Nathaniel Samson (Athletics).
Others include Adeniyi Aminat (Wrestling); Adesanmi Oluwatoyin (Weightlifting); Italy-based table tennis talent, Omotayo Olajide; and Taekwondo duo of Adamu Abubakar and Otuadinma Uzoamaka.
Reacting to this development, the NOC President, Engr. Habu Gumel, described the latest gesture from the IOC as a welcome development which will go a long way in exposing the athletes to quality training facilities, specialized coaches, regular medical and scientific assistance, as well as lodging costs and travel to Olympic qualification competitions.
Gumel said: “These 11 athletes were carefully selected out of the numerous applications from Nigerian athletes home and abroad.
“We would have wanted more slots, but we just had to make do with the available slots given to Nigeria by IOC.”
Gumel seized the opportunity to appeal to corporate organizations to support and sponsor Nigerian athletes that will ease the burden on the Federal Government, sports federations and individual athletes as they prepare for the Tokyo 2020 games.
He said: “Qualifying for the Olympics is capital intensive and without heavy financial backing. Athletes and federations find it difficult to train properly and even attend the numerous competitions, which serve as qualifiers for the Olympics.
“We cannot leave everything to government or federation presidents. We need more corporate sponsors to help us in preparing these athletes for major international competitions.”
It would be recalled that sequel to the Rio 2016 Olympics, 12 athletes, including Nigeria’s Queen of the track, Blessing Okagbare, Ese Brume, Ejowkoghene Divine Oduduru and Adekuoroye, all benefitted from the IOC scholarship.