The Federal Government has promised to reward athletes who win gold for Nigeria at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games with $5,000 each.
Sports minister Solomon Dalung, who revealed the financial package for the 90 athletes representing the country at the 21st Commonwealth Games, which open in the Australian sixth largest city Gold Coast on Wednesday, said silver medallists would receive $3,000 each, with each bronze medallists picking up $2, 000 for their efforts.
However, Dalung warned the athletes against tarnishing the image of the country at the Games.
He said, “I see you are all in high spirits and it shows that you have prepared for the competition. The President has sent his special greetings to inspire you. It is the President’s wish, that at the end of our sojourn here, the name of Nigeria will be great. Mr. President also said that he would be very happy to receive clean medals even if they’re of the lowest cadre than 10 tainted medals.”
A total of 6,600 athletes from 71 countries are geared up for the chase for medals in 275 events in 19 sports beginning from Thursday.
This is the fifth-time Australia is hosting the Commonwealth Games, and Games Minister Kate Jones told The Courier-Mail, “We will deliver the best Commonwealth Games ever, here on the Gold Coast, in Queensland.”
Organisers of the multisport event says an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide will be treated to a celebration of Gold Coast beach and indigenous culture.
Nigeria, who placed eight with 11 gold 11 silver and 14 bronze at the Glasgow 2014 Games, will feature in athletics, basketball, wrestling, weightlifting, boxing, table tennis, gymnastics, para table tennis, para athletics and para powerlifting.
Nigeria will present 37 athletes for athletics, four for weightlifting, five male table tennis players, 12 wrestlers, one gymnast, two para table tennis players, 12 basketball players and two para athletics.
Blessing Okagbare produced the performance of her career to claim a sprint double at Glasgow 2014, and Nigeria will rely on the multi-talented United States-based athlete again. The 29-year-old is Nigeria’s flag bearer during the opening ceremony.
Aruna Quadri, who reached the quarterfinals of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games table tennis event, the first African to do so, is another medal hopeful for Nigeria, who boast three world record holders, Paul Kehinde, Esther Oyema and Lucy Ejike, who are favourites to win gold in powerlifting.
Paralympics and world record holder in the men’s para-powerlifting -65kg category Kehinde said last month his target at Gold Coast 2018 was to set a record that would stay unbroken for about a decade.
Kehinde won gold at Glasgow 2014 and also won gold at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio after smashing the world record twice with a lift of 220kg.
Nigeria won four gold and two silver in para powerlifting at Glasgow 2014. Kehinde, Oyema, Abdulazeez Ibrahim and Loveline Obiji were gold medallists while Bose Omolayo and Rolland Ezuruike settled for silver.
Nigeria could spring a surprise in wrestling and boxing.
Glasgow 2014 champions England, Australia, Canada and Scotland are favourites for the top of the 2018 Games medals table.
The Gold Coast 2018 Games will make history as the first multisport event to award an equal number of medals to men and women since the competition began in Hamilton, Canada, in 1930.