The Imo State sports commissioner Rodney Ajaelu has explained why Rio 2016 Paralympic Games gold medalist Lauritta Onye was not among athletes rewarded by the state last week.
Governor Rochas Okorocha gave N1m and car gifts to three powerlifters from the state namely Roland Ezeruike, Ndidi Nwosu and Josephine Orji, who all won gold medals in Rio.
Onye, a native of Amaimo in Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State, lamented her exclusion, despite winning gold and setting a new world record in the women’s shot put event of the Games.
Ajaelu cleared the air on the issue saying the three athletes were rewarded because they compete for the state, aside from being residents of the state.
“She’s (Onye) from Imo but she didn’t travel as an Imo athlete to Brazil. If she traveled as an athlete from another state, then that state should receive her. If a Yoruba girl was representing Imo and went to Brazil and won gold, we would receive her.
”I don’t know her, after winning a gold medal, she should have presented her case. I’m the sports commissioner but she never told me, she never told the governor. She came back and sat in Lagos; she should have come here so that the governor could see her.”
Ajaelu added that Onye might still get a chance to be honoured by the state at an awards that would be organized by the state for its outstanding athletes later in the year. There’s no way we can start talking about her alone right now. She can come in for the awards night, which would take place after the 2016 National Sports Festival. From there, her case can be presented to the governor,” he added.