Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, on Thursday in Abuja charged Olympics-bound athletes Funke Oshonaike and Elizabeth Anyanacho to ensure podium finish at the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Dare, while receiving both athletes in his office, described Oshonaike who is making a record seventh appearance at the Olympics as a role model who should be emulated by younger athletes.
“This lady has been terrific and through a lot. Any other young person would have given up on this country.
“She struggled through school and she’s remained committed and has continued to excel accordingly. We are very proud of you and look forward to a good performance at the Olympics.
“In an event dominated by Asians, you have proven that you are a special breed,” he said.
The minister also urged Oshonaike to serve as a positive mentor to Anyanacho and other younger athletes who would be making their debut at the Olympics.
On taekwondo star Anyanacho, who won a gold medal at the just-concluded World Taekwondo G2-ranked Beirut Open, the minister asked for a similar feat at the Olympics.
“(In) the next 29 days we will be racing non-stop. I recall when I visited Elizabeth’s camp at Maitama in Abuja, I saw her and two others who are also African champions training.
“I saw the commitment, dedication and we made commitment to support her which we did almost immediately.
“We got her `adopted’ and the `adopter’ proceeded and paid the cash that same day,” he said.
Dare urged the athlete to be focused and keep working hard to reach the zenith of her career.
“Elizabeth is a young, exceptional and extremely promising lady who is almost at the zenith of her career, even if it is just at the African continent level. She earned the ticket to the Olympics as a result of hard work,” he added.
The minister used the occasion to reiterate the commitment of the Federal Government to better welfare and exposure for Team Nigeria.
“We are going to have a television programme once the Team Nigeria list is ready. It’s a 20-minute documentary on TV stations, profiling each of our athletes and their exploits because Nigerians don’t really know what we have.
“It’s something we also hope to put on the international media circuit. We need to put the statistics out there about each of our athletes so that the world will know that Nigeria has talents,” Dare added.
Oshonaike, who responded on behalf of the athletes, thanked the minister and the Federal Government for the support in ensuring proper preparation for the Olympics.
She said the athletes would ensure Nigeria did well at the Olympics.
“I am so happy to be here and to say a huge `thank you’ to the Minister for all that you are doing for our sports.
“This is the first time we are having athletes `adopted’ and I know you will do more. Thank you so much for the good work you are doing,” the table tennis star said.
The rescheduled Tokyo Olympics will hold from July 23 to Aug. 8.