Two of Nigeria’s world para-powerlifting champions, Lucy Ejike and Paul Kehinde at the weekend joined 41 other para athletes from around the world to form ‘Team Citi’ ahead of the 2020 Paralympic Games scheduled to hold in Tokyo, Japan.
Team Citi, a diverse group partnering Citi Bank is helping to change perceptions of persons living with disabilities.
Ejike and Kehinde who as ambassadors of Citi Bank are to enjoy the support of the bank to a number of competitions including the Olympics in Tokyo as well as the African Paralympic Games in Morocco.
Speaking at the event at the Corporate Headquarters of Citi Bank on Kofo Abayomi Street in Victoria Island last Friday, Executive Director of the bank, Mrs. Nneka Enwereji, said that Citi has a history of supporting the Paralympic movement, starting with Team USA at the London Paralympic Games in 2012.
“Through our partnership with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), we are committed to changing the conversation around disability so that these athletes can be defined by their heart and strength, not their supposed limitations.
“This partnership allows us to advance our shared mission of creating a more inclusive society, in this case by enabling para athletes to achieve sporting excellence,” stressed Mrs Enwereji.
She admitted that the dedication and passion of Lucy and Kehinde, as well as other para-athletes “inspire us to be at our best as we at Citi help our clients to achieve their own business and personal goals, and enable progress in their communities.”
In her reaction to the support from Citi Bank, Lucy Ejike expressed her happiness with the development, stressing that she was going to give her best to her career.
“I am happy to be one of the 41 ambassadors of Citi Bank from across the world. I used to train on my own and only get government’s support when it remains few months to major competitions. But now that I have Citi Bank as my sponsor, Tokyo 2020 will be one of the best Games I have ever attended,” she pledged.
While appealing to other corporate bodies to emulate Citi Bank’s support for para athletes, Ejike said it is now that Nigerian athletes need support not when they return from competitions with gold medals.
“This is different because other organisations only wait for when you are successful to identify with you. Citi Bank is the first sponsors to come to us before a competition; they are here at the point of our need, which is the best time to identify with an athlete,” the world champion reiterated.
While also eulogizing Citi Bank for the support for para athletes, Kehinde promised to double his efforts to repay the sponsorship by winning more medals at the Tokyo Games.
“There is no going back now that I have this type of support. This is the first time in my life that a big organization is identifying with me and I promise to make them proud.”
Other members of the PCN present at the event include its President, Bri.Gen. Emico Eruwa, General Secretary, Suleman Isah, Assistant General Secretary Odior Ketu Sunday and Director of the National Institute for Sports, Dr. John Dadi-Mamud