Ezeikpe said para-athletes have not competed in only one major competition since 2012 Paralympics.
A para-athlete and world record holder in javelin, Silver Ezikpe, on Tuesday appealed to the Para-athletics Federation of Nigeria to ensure early preparations for the Brazil 2016 Paralympic Games.
Mr. Ezeikpe set the world record at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games, where his first throw – 50.72 metres – fetched him gold and a record in the event.
The athlete, who is a coach with the Enugu State Ministry of Youths and Sports, made the appeal in an interview in Enugu. He said that the appeal became necessary as para-athletes in the country had not had any meaningful preparation for competitions.
Mr. Ezeikpe said that since the outing of the federation at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the federation had attended only a championship in Dubai.
He regretted that while their counterparts in powerlifting had improved, para-athletics, which he described as the major para-games event in the country, had taken the back seat.
“The powerlifters have attended not less than six different championships since 2013 but our federation attended only one. There has not been any preparation for the 2016 Paralympic Games. How can you stop somebody for years without competition and may be by 2016 you bring these people and expect them to be world beaters?” he asked.
Mr. Ezikpe appealed to the National Sports Commission, NSC, to intervene in the bickering within the federation and save the physically-challenged from losing their means of livelihood.
“Para-games provide a major means of livelihood for most physically-challenged in the country and para-athletics has the highest classes of events with not less 200 gold medals. So, if para-athletics comes under threat as is the case now, you can imagine the number of the physically-challenged that will be affected. Our federation is not doing anything to encourage us and only the government through the NSC can sanitise the system from the crisis of confidence rocking it,” Mr. Ezikpe said.
He called on government to make athletes’ welfare first charge, adding, “A situation where cleaners are paid better allowances than athletes during international championships is unusual.”
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