By Hananeel Jackson
Team Bayelsa has again emerged as champions of 2nd National Para-Games in Abuja, the Nigeria capital after eight days of competition across the different centres.
Team Bayelsa led by Director of Sports in the State Sports Council, Sir. Braveman Wodi arrived with about 250 contingents in eleven sports which include para swimming, Para canoeing, Para powerlifting, Para Karate,and Para taekwondo.
The other sports are Para wheelchair tennis,para table tennis, para badminton, para cycling, para athletics and Para Shooting for the eight -day event at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
Bayelsa State won the maiden edition in 2022 scooping 93 medals comprising 31 gold, 30 silver and 32 bronze to win the Nigerian version of the Paralympics games.
Team Bayelsa topped the overall medal table in this year’s edition with 73 medal made up of 30 gold, 24 silver and 20 bronze medals, Abia State finished a distant second amassing 16 gold, 8 Silver and 11 bronze, Kano came third with 15 gold, 12 Silver, 17 bronze.
Lagos State could only manage fourth position with 12 gold, 11 silver and 28 bronze medal while Oyo, Edo, Nasarawa, Ondo, FCT and Enugu State occupied 5th to 10th positions.
According to the official medal table, Imo, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara State occupied 29th to 37th positions.
Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh in his remarks, said he was pleased with the show of dexterity exhibited by the para athletes throughout the spectacle, commending the athletes and all the participants for displaying the spirit of sportsmanship.
He remarked that the games have again showcased the incredible abilities and the unwavering spirit of the para athletes in Nigeria, stressing that the level of talents and determination displayed by the athletes was truly inspiring.
Senator Enoh explained that the National Para Games 2023 has further proven the unity sports brings to Nigeria, describing sports as the biggest platform that unites the country, wishing athletes safe trips back to their various destinations.
An elated Bayelsa State Director of Sports, Sir. Braveman Wodi in an interview noted that he was happy to see the State defending para games, stating that the target was to surpass the previous record in 2022.
Sir. Wodi explained that some were hanging on the balance which did not count seven medals out of the classification of the nomenclature “V” and “K” because the number of States that participated were not enough to amass those medals making it up to nine gold medals that were not counted.
He commended the governor Senator Douye Diri and his Deputy Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo for the support to ensure that the athletes defended their title with smiles on their faces.
The Odi-born sports administrator thanked the people of the State and staff of the Sports Council for their prayers and support throughout the games in Abuja.
Also, a para table tennis player Annabel Theophilus, said team Bayelsa success story was as a result of governor Douye Diri’s continuous love for sports in the State and the instant reward of athletes whenever they made the state proud.