By Emeka Dennar
Bayelsa State Governor Henry Seriake Dickson has rewarded athletes and coaches of Nigeria’s wrestling team to the recently-concluded 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, with various handsome cash gifts, following their impressive performance at the quadrennial multi-sport event.
The wrestlers won 8 medals (3 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze), accounting for one-third of the total medals (24) won by Nigeria at the Games.
In a brief ceremony held at the State Executive Chamber in Yenagoa on Tuesday, Governor Dickson announced cash rewards of N1.5m for the gold medalists, N1m for the athletes who won silver, while the bronze medal winners will get N700,000 for their efforts. Four other athletes were also rewarded with N500,000 each despite their inability to win medals in Gold Coast.
For guiding the athletes to success at the Games, the coaches were rewarded with N1m each.
Reacting to the Governor’s gesture, an elated President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation Daniel igali said the announcement did not come to him as a surprise, as Governor Dickson has always showed support to the wrestlers.
“You know I’m blown away, I’m so happy,” an excited Igali said. “But this is not unexpected because he has been doing it, but more in private.
“He thinks that he is honouring the wrestlers, but I think this was also our opportunity to honour him. To have the whole Nigeria understand that the results you see are not results from just two months of camping, but it is from years of accumulated support for the wrestling federation.
“So, I am very happy for him that the world gets to know the role he plays for wrestling.
“I am really happy for the wrestlers that he was able to recognize them this way.”
Speaking on behalf of the wrestlers, Commonwealth gold-medalist Odunayo Adekuoroye thanked Governor Dickson for rewarding the athletes, and promised that the team will continue to make him proud in subsequent competitions.
“I always believe in him; this is not his first time (of appreciating us), at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, he followed us down to Scotland,” the World silver-medalist said.
“And he loves sports so much, and we are very happy today. We didn’t expect what he did. So we are very happy. And on behalf of the wrestling team, I’m saying thank you to our Daddy (Gov. Dickson), and we pray for long life for him. We so much appreciate him.
“And we are promising him that every time, we will always try our best to make him happy.”
The wrestlers have always enjoyed the support of the Bayelsa State Governor, who hosts an annual National Championship in the state, as well as sponsoring them to various competitions outside the country.
Nigeria Wrestling Federation