Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games para powerlifting gold medallists Esther Oyema, Rowland Ezuruike, as well as silver medallist Lucy Ejike have expressed their happiness and delight that Nigeria is in the limelight because of the fforts the put in place.
Oyema on Tuesday broke her world record to win the Commonwealth Games powerlifting event for the third consecutive time after lifting 131kg in the women’s lightweight to win gold.
Ezuruike won men’s lightweight gold ahead of defending champion Paul Kehinde after lifting 188kg and 194kg to score 224.3 points. Ejike came second behind Oyema.
The athletes said they are looking forward to meeting President Muhammadu Buhari after the Games.
Oyema said, “I feel so excited because it was like a film to me.
“I was anxious about winning gold at the Games. I had to start the process of cutting down on my body weight, because I was already in the heavyweight class and I knew I needed a lot of hard work to shed about 10kg. My coach Pat Ibite encouraged me so I started training for it. If I didn’t work on my body weight, I wouldn’t have set a new world record today.”
The 35-year-old added, “Today I have made sacrifices to make my country proud. I have won gold and set a third world record. I would like to meet President Buhari. I want him to make us proud too.”
Oyema lamented para-athletes are often ignored by the country despite setting world records, calling for Buhari to change things this time round.
She said, “Most of us are well educated but we can’t find good jobs, because of our physical challenges. I do this competition with passion because I love what I’m doing. Today, everybody wants to felicitate with us but after the Games, we will be forgotten. We are not recognised despite being number one in the world in para powerlifting.
There are so many of us on the streets out there looking for food to eat. They are Paralympic and world champions but nobody knows them anymore because they are no longer competing so I want the President to recognize us and put us in the right position.”
Ezurike, who echoed Oyema’s complaints, however said he was not happy winning gold medal by beating his friend and world record holder Kehinde.
He said, “It’s an honour for me to beat a world champion. He is one of the greatest in powerlifting. He beat me in the last Commonwealth Games and I defeated him in this year’s. I’m happy not just because of the gold medal but the person I beat.”
Ezurike added, “What they expected from us, we have given it to them and I know that Mr President will do something for us. Sport is all about encouragement and motivation. They say that to whom much is expected, much is given. I think we have given them our best and we are expecting from them. I have finished my part and I want our dear President to invite us to Aso Villa for a reception. That is my dream.”