*Plans to stop competing for Nigeria
*Nigerians mock me for governmental indifference to my achievements
By Adejoke Bamidele, Lagos
Apparently disappointed by the Federal Government’s inability to accord a befitting reception to the Paralympians for winning laurels at the, may quit sport.
In spite of winning medals and hoisting the country’s flag at different international championships with great pride and honour, Rio 2016 Paralympics gold medallist, Lauretta Onye, says she may be calling it quits with sports.
According to the world celebrated athlete, “my country’s government is yet to accord us a befitting reception to appreciate what we have done to our country. I am so sad now. I am not proud to be called a Nigerian para-athlete. I am tired of representing the country that does not appreciate my determination and patriotism.
Onye who was almost moved to tears when she was speaking said, “I am extremely angry with sports issues in this country; it seems that the government is not concerned about what happens to we the athletes. I train without the help of the government; I attend international competitions and win medals for the country because I love Nigeria.
“I have had enough because there is nothing to show that my country loves me after what I have achieved. I am not proud of my country. When I win laurels, my name and that of Nigeria is called, the national anthem is sung and this to me is patriotism,” she said.
It would be recalled that Miss Onye won a gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil with a throw of 8.40m, thereby becoming a world record holder in the F40 Shot put class. She won a gold medal and the only medal for the country at the 2015 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Para-athletics Championships in Doha.
Onye, 32, said that people mocked her when she walked in the streets, not because of her stature but for having nothing to show for her achievements.
“As an Olympian and two-time world record holder, people tell me that I am supposed to be driving my own car, when they see me on the streets, they mock me to my face. It is hurting and painful. Therefore, I have made up my mind to stop going for training because there is no need to continue with what is not appreciated, I cannot be wasting my time,” she said.
The Imo-born Achondroplasia athlete, when asked about her participation in the 2017 International Paralympics Committee (IPC) World Para-athletics championships, said she was not interested.
“Do you know how long I have been enduring? It is not easy to go for training virtually five days in a week for a year without any form of assistance. Do you know how it feels like to be a champion who cannot boast of anything in your pocket? I choose not to look at my disability by engaging myself meaningfully.
“This time, I will rather be a truck pusher than be a super star for nothing. I am not interested in participating at the 2017 IPC World Championships either,” she said.
If such trend continues, the country will continue to lose many of its talented athletes, thereby making it hard to win laurels at international paralympic competitions.
Achondroplasia is a short-limbed dwarfism, according to the IPC classification. Athletes are grouped under classes T40 (track events) and F40 (field events). The maximum height of 145cm is required for male athletes and 140cm for female athlete.
The 2017 IPC World Para-athletics championships are scheduled for 14th July to 23rd July in London.