The Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung, on Tuesday advised Nigerian athletes at the XXI Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia to compete fairly without tarnishing the country’s image.
Nneka Ikem-Anibeze, the Special Assistant on Media to Dalung, quoted the minister in a statement as giving the advice while addressing Team Nigeria athletes and officials in Gold Coast.
He addressed the athletes immediately after the Welcome Ceremony organised by the organisers of the Games to officially welcome Team Nigeria to the Games Village.
Dalung charged the athletes to be good ambassadors of the country adding that ”to whom much is given, much is expected.
“I see you are all (to be) in high spirits and it shows that you have prepared for the competition.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, the father of the nation, has sent his special greetings to inspire Team Nigeria.
“It is the President’s wish, that at the end of our sojourn here, the name of Nigeria will be greater.
“Mr President also said that he will be very happy to receive clean medals even if they’re of the lowest cadre than 10 tainted medals.
“Occasions like this bring opportunities for us to make new friends, develop new bonds and have a network of new relationships.
“The keys to success in life is hardwork, respect, love, kindness and team spirit.”
The minister expressed optimism that Team Nigeria’s performance at the Games would exceed previous performances.
“In this Games, Nigerians are expecting nothing short of surpassing their record in the last Games.”
The welcome ceremony was held earlier for the teams’ arrival at the Games Village.
The ceremony was to officially acknowledge teams present for the Games.
The ceremony saw the athletes being entertained with a dance troupe from the Munujali tribe.
Preceding the performance, athletes watched from the sidelines as the Nigerian flag was raised and the national anthem sung.
A commemorative indigenous shield was presented to Dalung while Team Nigeria in return presented the talking drum to their hosts.
Also speaking to the athletes, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Olusade Adesola, urged the athletes to give their best as they have been motivated to make Nigerians proud.
“You will agree with me that we have never had it so good. You’ve all been paid your pre-Games camping allowances and all your entitlements will be given to you here.”
Each gold medalist will receive $5,000, silver will attract $3,000 while bronze medalists will get $2,000 each, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.
Also at the Games village to encourage the athletes were the past and present Presidents of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Sani Ndanusa and Habu Gumel respectively, as well as the Nigerian Ambassador to Australia, Bello Husseini.
The opening ceremony of the XXI Commonwealth Games holds on Wednesday at the Carrara Stadium in Gold Coast from 7 p.m.