Sports minister Barrister Solomon Dalung has rewarded the first Nigerian male and female marathoners to reach the finish line at the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon which took place in Lagos at the weekend.
According to a statement signed by the media aide to the minister, Nneka Anibeze, Dalung presented the sum of five hundred thousand naira each to Iliya Pam and Deborah Pam who emerged best Nigerian runners and an additional one hundred thousand naira each to the 8 year and 6 year old sisters Damilola and Bimpe Oluwaseyi who both completed the 10km race.
Barrister Dalung while presenting the monetary awards to the athletes congratulated the runners for making Nigeria proud. He said the money was to encourage them to train and perform better in the next edition.
“This gesture is in fulfillment of the commitment we made to reward athletes who excel in their different fields. It is not acceptable for foreign athletes to always come and cart away the prize money. We have the facilities and we urge you to train harder so that in the next two editions you will be one of the first three runners.
“As for the difficulties you went through as Nigerian participants at the marathon, I wish to encourage you because every good thing has a price but it is totally unacceptable to discriminate against Nigerian runners. Since it is a Bronze label Marathon recognized by the IAAF, the organizers must adopt international best practices”.
Meanwhile, President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria Hon Ibrahim Shehu Gusau expressed his gratitude to the Minister who he described as the first sitting Minister to recognize the efforts of the marathoners. He however pleaded for better welfare of the Nigerian athletes in subsequent editions.