The joy of winning six medals and breaking 12-year world record with just six Athletes during the just concluded Commonwealth Games knows no bound for newly elected President of Nigeria Para-Powerlifting Federation, Queen Uboh who returned from Gold Coast two days ago. She spoke of her drive to go all out and add more value to the fortunes of Nigerian Para-Athletes. IKENNA OKONKWO and PAUL captured her views.
First, I will say that I’m full of happiness and joy. On the 10th of April, the weather changed for Nigeria when Para-Power Lifting started their performances and picked up the first gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
This raised the flag of Nigeria out of 71 nations that participated. The first gold medal brought tears of joy and restored confidence in the team, because team Nigeria were becoming downcast. We had our challenges, but I thank God and my athletes that believed in me. When they started complaining, I told them to trust me and perform not just for me but for Nigeria: and they did.
I’ve already given them their dues there at Gold Coast. I gave each Gold, Silver and medallist N100, 000 , N50, 000 respectively. I gave coaches N100, 000 each. I made a lot of promises to the athletes and coaches and they decided to perform to please me and Nigerians and win the prize money.
I told them to win gold medals to give me the key for me to unlock doors and they were motivated. Even when the first five days passed, many People were downcast. I told the Minister that everything will change the day Para-Power lifting will perform.
We had only six Athletes that went to the competition and six of them came back with six medals comprising of four gold and two silver; meaning that Nigeria did not invest wrongly. It was not just ordinary medals but the best at stake. If we were twelve that went, we would have taken all the medals. We broke a world record of winning all the medals in the Para-Power Lifting competition.
My 2020 Olympics plans
I have been going to all the media houses to beg state Governors and Captain of industries not to leave sports alone for the Ministry of Sports or the federal government, because going for competitions is a pathway to achieving success. You have to go to a minimum of four international competitions to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
I told the Permanent Secretary and the Minister of Sports that I came into office and met gold medals, but I want to bring the cup. My plan is for us to prepare our 17 athletes to bring back the cup in 2020 Olympics. The Ministry, captain of industries and state Governors must sponsor us to go for international games. We have one coming up in France, which is going to cost us almost 42 thousand Euros to go.
We need the money because if we don’t go to the event, we won’t qualify for 2020 Olympics. Those are the pathways we are talking about and they should know that they are not investing wrongly in Para-Power Lifting.
I have not surpassed the record I met on ground because I met the Federation with gold medals. I will have to bring back the cup from the 2020 Olympics to surpass the record I met on ground and I have to go with my full team to achieve that feat.
We need a minimum of 17 gold medals to win the cup and I have the 17 players. Gold medals, world record are not a big deal for the Federation. We need to bring the cup to Nigeria. It is my target to bring the cup to Nigeria and by the grace of God, I will achieve it.
Sponsorship drive and retirement for my Athletes
I have a lot of things I’m trying to put together which will demand sponsors. First, is the creation of a retirement plan which I call 401K for my athletes and coaches. It is a retirement plan used in countries like the U.S. We call it pension in Nigeria but I prefer to call it 401K.
We are also making plans to establish companies like bakery and bottle water where only the physically challenged will work. This will create job opportunity for them and from there; we could raise U-15 and U-17 athletes to replace the old ones.’