Nigerian Paralympians are expecting a presidential windfall today, following their victorious runs at the London 2012 Paralympics Games. No doubt with a fist full of dollars they are a target for prospective lover boys or girls.
But one Paralympian that has learnt her lesson is power-lifter, Folasade Olufunmilayo who revealed how in the past men have left her high and dry, after getting a slice of the monies that she was able to earn representing Nigeria.
“No, I wont fall for that again. In the past, guys who were dating me were only interested in my money, but I’m through with that. I am getting married, once all the celebrations of our victory at the London 2012 Games are over,” said Olufunmilayo who won silver at the Games even as she set a new world record in the 75kg category.
She disclosed that her heartthrob is also a power-lifter and so they are keeping it in the ‘family’.
“He humbly proposed to me with all good intentions. And I feel that he is the one God has given to me.
“We are very happy together and there is nothing like he ‘chopping’ my money,” said the athlete a day after she sensationally lost a gold medal that she could have easily won, but for the lack of the understanding of the rules by Nigerian officials.
She was brimming with happiness while she spoke of her love-life. “With him beside me there is still much more to achieve in power-lifting.
“I have put the disappointment of not winning gold and God willing, I will get myself prepared for the 2016 Olympics.”
Olufunmilayo won the hearts of the watching spectators at the London ExCel Arena with her bravado. She was leading on the first and second attempts, but the Chinese officials played a fast one by cashing on the rules to make their athlete come out first having demanded for an increase in weight to 142kg, which their athlete lifted with a wobble.
Olufunmilayo stepped on the stage and lifted 142kg. It didn’t occur to her coaches that she should have increased her weight and since the judges permitted the Chinese lift, Nigeria lost out on the gold due to the fact that Olufunmilayo had a greater body weight than her Chinese opponents.
“I want Nigerian officials to be on the board of the international governing body of power-lifting. It is because we don’t have anybody there, that is why we are being cheated. I wasn’t the only one who was outsmarted at the London 2012 Games, we could have won up to nine gold medals.
“The government should pay more attention to Paralympics sport by providing funds for training of coaches and officials. Personally when I retire from active sports I will go into officiating and also help more disabled people to come into sports,” said the athlete.
The Paralympians will be the guests to the President Goodluck Jonathan today in Abuja and it is expected that there will be Naira rain on the athletes. They have already been given cash awards by the National Sports Commission, when they were hosted by the Nigerian Ambassador in Britain.
In the past, Paralympains painted the town red with their financial rewards. One athlete who was notorious for that was Ajibola Adeoye, an amputee sprinter who took the world by storm at the Barcleona 1992 and Atlanta 1996 Games. He would invite his friends and party hard till all the his earnings were gone and then his mother would come to the National Stadium to look for his son. Adeoye has since faded from the Paralympics horizon.