National Sports Festival: Rivers Give Instant Cash Reward To Medalists
Team Rivers is doing everything possible to give hosts, Delta, a good fight on the medals table at the ongoing 21st National Sports Festival.
In 2011, Rivers finished on top of the medals table, beating Delta at the end of the fiesta tagged: Garden City Games. Since then, Rivers has not been able to replicate such performance. But things may change for the Rivers athletes in Asaba, if the words of the state Commissioner for Sports, Barrister Christopher Green, are anything to go by.
Green revealed that Team Rivers is in Delta with a contingent of 876 athletes, the second largest behind Team Delta at the festival.
At the last edition held in Benin City, Edo State, Team Rivers presented about 400 athletes. According to Green, Team Rivers’ target is to prove a point that the state is a key producer of athletes in Nigerian sports.
To motivate the athletes to give their best in Delta 2022, Green has ordered a cash reward for every gold medalist. He described as untrue, social media reports that Rivers State has reduced payment of monthly salary for contract athletes from 11 months to four months.
“That is not true. We have two categories of athletes on our payroll. We have our staff athletes and coaches and we also have contract athletes. We agreed to pay our contract athletes 11 months and that has not changed. But we discovered a lot of ghost names on the list of the contract athletes.
“Even those that were decamped in Port Harcourt still found their way into the list here in Asaba. We are verifying it and as soon as the verification in completed, the athletes and the coaches will get their 11 months salary complete. I was once an athlete, and I won’t do something that will hurt any of them.”
According to Green, all athletes and officials of Team Rivers were paid 10 days camping allowance before their departure from Port Harcourt and have equally received five days of camp allowance in Asaba.
“What His Excellency Governor Nyesom Wike is expecting is nothing less than first position because he has released funds for the sports festival,” Green stated.
Meanwhile, Team Delta’s cyclist, Ese Ukpeseraye, is set to hit the sixth gold medal as she confronts others in the 60km road race for the male category today.
Ukpeseraye, who won five gold medals at the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival in Benin City, Edo State, last year, is set to surpass the performance on home soil.
She was part of the mixed relay winners and 3km Team Pursuit. She also won individual medals in the 200m, 500m and 1km Time Trials events to be the highest medalist in both the male and female categories so far at Delta 2022 NSF.
Team Delta Assistant coach, Moses Omozusi, is optimistic the state will pick the 60km gold, as Ukpeseraye is most favoured to carry the day.
“We were sure of the 60km gold for the female cyclists than the 140km gold for the male, but luck just smiled on us in the male event today (yesterday),” Omozusi stated.
In yesterday’s road race, Team Delta won the gold through Yusuf Abdulmalik, while Azeez Lawal of Team Ogun and Team Delta’s Olalekan Azeez picked silver and bronze medals respectively.
With the male road race gold, Team Delta now has a total of seven gold, while Team Edo and Team Ogun have two and one gold respectively.
Meanwhile, Delta State athlete, Bright Paul Kolade, has won his third consecutive gold medal in Taekwondo at the ongoing Festival.He beat Akwa Ibom State’s Iyama Udobong to win gold in the men’s -74kg to complete the hat-trick. He won gold medals in Abuja 2018, another in Edo 2020 and now Delta 2021. Kolade is the first Taekwondo athlete in that weight category to achieve the feat.