By Oluwole Francis
_As British High Commissioner Hosts Team to Farewell Reception_
Sports Minister Sunday Dare is optimistic Team Nigeria will be very competitive at the 2022 Commonwealth Games starting in Birmingham, United Kingdom next week.
The Minister said Nigerian athletes are fit and ready for the Games because the past few months have sharpened and toughened them for the challenges ahead.
Speaking during a farewell dinner organised for Team Nigeria by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing at her residence in Abuja on Thursday, Dare assured that Nigeria will excel in Birmingham.
His words: “The last few months have toughened our athletes. As I speak now, some of them are in Eugene, Oregon, United States of America for the World Athletics Championships. Before now, some were in Mauritius for the African Senior Athletics Championships.
“By being part of these competitions, I can say that Team Nigeria is fit and ready. We will compete with determination and fairly. As a Ministry, we have tried to provide resources as much as we can afford for our athletes to be well prepared and we are sure of great success.”
In her welcome address, the British High Commissioner, Catriona Laing expressed delight at the opportunity to host Team Nigeria to a farewell reception, extending special appreciation to the Sports Minister Sunday Dare and the president of the Nigeria Olympic Committee(NOC) Engineer Habu Gumel for making it happen.
According to her, “I know the Team Nigeria athletes will do this nation proud. I know they have worked extremely hard, put in so many hours of training and competing to represent Nigeria.
“Do not forget those sacrifices you have made, and use that memory, that muscle memory, that energy to pull through your most challenging moments. In the end it is only you who can give your best.”
Describing Birmingham, the venue of the Commonwealth Games, as a modern and bustling metropolis and one of the most diverse cities as well as being a truly multicultural destination, Laing revealed that it has thousands of members of the Nigerian diaspora living there so African and Nigerian delicacies would be within reach, adding in the pidgin language that “I know say una go do well. Make una carry plenty medals come o!”
In his own remarks, the president of the Nigeria Olympic Committee(NOC) Engineer Habu Gumel charged the Nigerian athletes to be good ambassadors.
He thanked Catriona Laing for hosting the team and expressed confidence in the ability of Birmingham to host the rest of the Commonwealth successfully.
Nigeria will be competing in nine sports at the Games. The sports are; Athletics, Boxing, Judo, Wrestling, Weightlifting, Table Tennis, Para Athletics, Para Powerlifting and Para Table Tennis.