As Nigeria gets set to host the world at the Lagos 2019 International Para Powerlifting Competition which holds at the Oriental Hotel from 28 – 30 January, Paralympics record holder and 2018 Commonwealth gold medallist in the men’s up to 54 kg Roland Ezuruike says Team Nigeria Para-powerlifters have resolved to win the Championships notwithstanding a lack of camping allowances or promises of monetary reward.
The Imo state born Para-athlete who broke the Paralympics record in the men’s 54kg event at the 2016 Rio games and has won gold in every event he has competed in since taking silver at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games is one of over 50 Para-powerlifters hoping to put Nigeria on top at the first ever international Para Powerlifting event to be staged in Nigeria.
Having dominated at Para- Powerlifting events hosted in other countries, Ezuruike believes “it would be a shameful thing” if Nigeria failed to come out tops in an event hosted on home soil and says he would do all in his power to ensure his run of winning gold at every event since 2014 continues.
“At this particular championship coming forth, I have a lot to put,” Ezuruike told busybuddiesng.com.
“I have much effort because it would be a very shameful thing something we go over to other countries and excel that we would come back to our country which is our home [and not win].
“So I think I will make every possible best to make sure that I still defend that my champion that nobody will come from other countries and beat me in my own country. That is my aim.”
Ezuruike says his resolve to win is shared by his teammates which include the likes of Kehinde Paul, Bose Omotayo, Esther Onyema, Ibrahim Abdulazeez and Lucy Ejike – all world record holders in their respective categories. But while the athletes who have consistently outperformed their contemporaries in other fields are driven by a patriotic fervour to make their country proud, it appears that their fervour isn’t being appreciated with the athletes not having been paid any allowances since camping began on the 3rd of January.
Having joined the national team in 2014, Ezuruike remembers when things used to be different and Para-powerlifters could bank on camping allowances and monetary rewards for their many victories. While laying emphasis on the galvanising impetus that promises of financial rewards give to athletes, Ezuruike, however, says since “ Mr Recession came to Nigeria and has never left”, the athletes understand the constraints facing the Federation and are prepared to relegate thoughts of pecuniary gain to the background and focus on making the country proud.
“Sports is all about motivation, when you tell an athlete that winning bonus is $250 he puts it into calculation and starts working towards it, that would give a lot of motivation to athletes but so far we have not gotten anything like that but nevertheless this is our country we keep all those things behind so as not to affect us for we to defend our home,” he told busybuddiesng.com.
“We accept the camping conditions because we know that the current situation of Nigeria especially in the financial aspect of it
“They said ‘Mr Recession’ came to Nigeria and has never left, so we are praying very hard that this recession that visited Nigeria should go so that some certain things will be as usual as it used to be before. But as it stands now we are managing the situation we see ourselves and we didn’t allow it to affect us we are just putting our own efforts, we look beyond all those material things that are supposed to be added to us and we think that without that we can still make it,” he added.