Eleven Nigerian athletes have been selected for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) scholarship scheme ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The list of athletes to enjoy the IOC grant is headlined by fast-rising 100m hurdler and reigning Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Oluwatobiloba Ayomide Amusan and Portugal-based table tennis star, Aruna Quadri.
The deal brokered by the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) also includes; Commonwealth Games wrestling champion in the 53kg category, Odunayo Adekuoroye, Blessing Oborodudu (Wrestling) and Nathaniel Glory Onome (Athletics), Nathaniel Samson (Athletics).
Others include; Adeniyi Aminat (Wrestling), Adesanmi Oluwatoyin (Weightlifting), Italy-based table tennis talent, Omotayo Olajide and taekwondo duo of Adamu Abubakar and Otuadinma Uzoamaka.
In his reaction, NOC President, Habu Gumel described the latest gesture from IOC as a welcome development which will go a long way in exposing the athletes to quality training facilities, specialised coaching, regular medical and scientific assistance as well as lodging costs and travel to Olympic qualification competitions.
“These 11 athletes were carefully selected out of the numerous applications from Nigerian athletes home and abroad. We would have wanted more slots, but we just had to make do with the available slots given to Nigeria by IOC,” observed the NOC chief.
Gumel used the opportunity to appeal to corporate organisations to support and sponsor Nigerian athletes to ease the burden on the Federal Government, sports federations and individual athletes as they prepare for the Tokyo 2020 games.
“Qualifying for the Olympics is capital intensive and without heavy financial backing, athletes and federations find it difficult to cope with. To train properly and even attend the numerous competitions which serve as qualifiers for the Olympics costs fortune.
“We cannot leave everything to government or federation presidents. We need more corporate sponsors to help us in preparing these athletes for major international competitions,” pleaded the NOC boss.
Prior to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, 12 athletes including Nigeria’s Queen of the track, Blessing Okagbare, Ese Brume, Ogho-oghene Egwero, Divine Oduduru, and Adekuoroye all benefitted from the IOC scholarship.