The Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung has assured Nigerian athletes currently in the Commonwealth Games village in Gold Coast, that the federal government will not discriminate against athletes during payment of training grants.
The Minister made the remarks during his second visit in one week to the village to make clarifications on issues of training grants.
“I am here to make clarifications on certain developments that will portray us in bad light, disturb our unity of purpose and has a possibility of distracting our attention from success. The issue of training grants is an exclusive reserve of the federal government presently handled by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and it is a decision that will always be taken in our national interest.
“A statement suggesting discrimination is not at all in our interest. Grants are paid based on categorization and not based on the principle of where you are resident or where you train.”
The Minister also cautioned the athletes on intimidation of up-coming ones and urged them to guard against causing problems in camp through rumour mongering and false information capable of breaking the unity and peace of the camp.
“The great athletes among you did not start as big athletes. You started somewhere before you attained greatness therefore you have to accord privileges and respect to upcoming ones. You’re not supposed to use your advantage to oppress others.
“I dislike this unwarranted distraction going on in camp and fueled by whosoever. This is not the spirit we started with. We must retrace our steps to the spirit which we started with.
“Everybody’s right and privileges must be given to him or her before the team departs from the Commonwealth Games.
If per adventure, you decide not to participate or compete for Nigeria, that is not a problem but you must not use your decision of not serving Nigeria to influence other athletes. That is unacceptable.
“I want to commend those athletes who have already competed but didn’t win. I’m happy you competed favorably with others although you didn’t win but those who do not want to compete for the country should remain peaceful in their decisions.”
Dalung however disclosed that rewards for new records will be at the discretion of the federal government.
The new African 200m record holder Blessing Okagbare thanked the minister on behalf of the athletes for his advice and his clarification on some issues affecting the team.
She promised that the team will do their best to make Nigeria proud at the ongoing Games.
The Games continue with finals on Monday in the men’s shot-put, 100m and Para Athletics where Goodness Duru will be representing Nigeria in the Women’s F46 Javelin throw at the Carrara Stadium.
Seye Ogunlewe and Enoch Adegoke qualified on Sunday for the Men’s 100m final while Samson Nathaniel and Chidi Okezie will compete in the 400m men’s semi final.
Elsewhere at the Oxemford Studios, Nigeria’s Millicent Agboegbulem fights Elizabeth Andiego of Kenya in the quarter final of women’s 75kg boxing weight class while Lukmon Lawal faces Uganda’s Regarn Singwa in the men’s 81kg round of 16.
The men’s Table Tennis team take on England in the semi final while D’Tigers also face Australia in the preliminaries of the basketball event in Cairns.