The new Women’s Para Powerlifting World record holder Esther Oyema MON and Commonwealth Gold medalist Rowland Ezuruike want an audience with President Muhammadu Buhari after winning gold on Day 6 of the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
Oyema who lifted 131kg in the Women’s lightweight final to set a new world record said that meeting President Buhari will be a dream come true.
“I feel so excited because it was like a film to me. I was anxious about winning gold at the Commonwealth Games because after the Paralympic Games in Rio, I went to rest. 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.
“Today I have made sacrifices to make my country proud. I have won Gold and set a 3rd World record. I will like to meet President Muhammadu Buhari and I want him to make us proud too.”
Oyema said that one of the greatest challenges of physically challenged athletes was lack of recognition despite setting World records and called on the President to pat them on the back accordingly.
“Most of us are well educated but we can’t find a good job 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 recognized 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. If it were the able bodied athletes that set 3 World records, I know what would be happening now so I want the President to reward me as a woman, a fighter and a winner because after this, we don’t have anything to all back on.”
Similarly, Gold medalist in the men’s lightweight class Rowland Obumneke Ezurike also expressed happiness not only for winning the gold medal but for beating his friend and World record holder Paul Kehinde.
“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 expressed optimism that they will be received this time around following their success at the Games.
“What they expected from us, we have given it to them and I know that Mr President will do something for us. Sports 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.”
Lucy Ejike who won silver behind the new world record holder Oyema also expressed desire to see Mr President.
“I want President Buhari to welcome us because it is always good when somebody does a great job and you welcome the person. It gives the person motivation and encouragement to continue the work so I will like him to give us official handshake and award when we come back.”
Nigeria leapt to the 9th position on the Commonwealth Games medals table on Tuesday after winning 4 Gold and 4 silver medals in Para Powerlifting.