Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday fulfilled government’s pledge of a house to Chioma Ajunwa-Oparah, 25 years after winning Gold medal for Nigeria the Atlanta Olympic Games of 1996.
Ajunwa-Oparah, the first African woman to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games field event, was gifted with a three-bedroom apartment in the Babatunde Raji Fashola Housing Estate, Iponri.
Ajunwa-Oparah is now an Assistant Commissioner of Police in Lagos Police Command.
Sanwo-Olu made the presentation at a reception held for Lagos State’s athletes who participated in the recently concluded National Sports Festival in Edo State.
Lagos State won 125 medals, including 32 gold and 27 silver medals. in the contest.
Ajunwa-Oparah, a long jump athlete, put Nigeria on the global radar after she won a gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
She was promised a house by the then military government but the pledge was not fulfilled before the country returned to democracy in 1999.
The governor also presented cheques to the medal winners, some of whom would be going to represent Nigeria in the forthcoming Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan.
Presenting the apartment’s key to Ajunwa-Opara, Sanwo-Olu said that the feat achieved by athlete helped redeem the country’s image and raised the hope of young people seeking to improve their sporting skills.
”When Dr Chioma Ajunwa-Oparah represented the country in the 1996 Olympic Games, some promises were made and very typical of us as a people, we forget.
”I have met and kept the promises of my predecessors in ensuring that our athletes get what they deserve.
”The promise of a befitting shelter to Chioma Ajunwa-Oparah could have been delayed for 25 years, but today she will be a proud owner of a three-bedroom apartment in the famous Babatunde Raji Fashola Estate in Iponri.
”She has remained a good reference point for sport, journalism and everything that relates to sport in our country. She is a true demonstration of can-do spirit, which reflects her decision to serve the country as a police officer after attaining a coveted position on an international sporting platform.
“We will continue to use her as a testimony to give women strong voice and good representation in our sport organisations. We have made it compulsory to reserve 30 per cent of positions to our women in boards of sport organisations in Lagos,” he said.
Earlier, Ajunwa-Oparah decorated the governor with a replica of her 1996 gold medal.
She described the gesture as a ”motivation” to fulfil her dream in raising a new generation of athletes, adding that the governor’s action had further reinforced her belief in the country.
Presenting cheques to the successful Lagos athletes, Sanwo-Olu urged them not to rest on their oars in excelling and achieving greater feats in the Tokyo Olympics.
The governor said that there would be a new beginning for sports in Lagos, as the amended Sport Commission Law, which he signed earlier in the day, was initiated to promote sporting activities at the grassroots.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that he had given an approval for the upgrade of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere to make it a standard sport centre.
He added that the state government was set to commence the concurrent construction of eight new mini-stadia across the state, to further improve youth participation in sports.
”We have just signed an amendment on Sport Commission Bill into Law after the House of Assembly adjusted the law for us.
”With the new law, we will have more robust grassroots sport competitions and it will take sport to a granular level where we will have a lot more participation and infrastructure development at the grassroots level.
”Our youths have brighter days ahead and I enjoin them not to give up on their skills. There is a reward for hard work, but sometimes the reward may be delayed. You should not be discouraged because people are watching. At the right time, God will come through for you,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr Segun Dawodu, thanked Sanwo-Olu for prioritising youth development activities, describing the governor’s gesture as unprecedented.
Sanwo-Olu rewarded the Lagos representatives at the National Sport Festival with N146 million, he also presented cheques ranging from N300,000 to N5 million to winners of medals in the contest.
Ahmed Koleosho, a para table tennis player and Lagos team captain, received a cheque of N2.5 million from the governor as prize for his feat. He will also be representing Nigeria at the Tokyo Olympic Games.