By Okezie Nnadi
SIFAX Group, one of Nigeria’s leading business conglomerates with interest in Maritime, Aviation, Haulage & Logistics, Oil & Gas, Hospitality and Finance, has provided financial support to aid the preparations of two Nigerian athletes competing at the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics.
The athletes are table tennis stars, seven-time Olympian, Olufunke Oshonaike and Aruna Quadri. SIFAX has provided the sum of $10,000 to each of the table tennis stars as support funds, which brings to a total of N10million; N5million for each at an estimated exchange rate of N500 to the dollar.
The support was provided under the #AdoptAnAthlete programme, an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Youth & Sports Development to canvass support from the private sector for athletes representing the country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The financial support will cater to the athletes’ preparations for the Olympics including medical expenses, hiring of personal trainer, dieting and other related needs.
Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Group Executive Vice Chairman, SIFAX Group, commended Mr. Sunday Dare, Minister of Youth and Sports Development for the initiative, describing it as an avenue to further encourage athletes to give their best at the global event.
He said: “We wish to applaud the efforts of the Honourable Minister for bringing relevant stakeholders onboard to support our athletes going to the Tokyo Olympics. This laudable initiative will go a long way in encouraging the Olympians to aim for gold, knowing fully well that the country is ready to provide some sort of support to put them in the best frame of mind and shape for the competition.”
Afolabi also praised both Quadri and Oshonaike for their outstanding talents and consistency over the years both at local and international levels and charged them to do the nation proud at the Olympics.
“The incredible and outstanding talents of Aruna Quadri and Olufunke Oshonaike cannot be overemphasized. They have represented the nation graciously at various sporting event across the globe and we are proud of them. I want to use this opportunity to encourage them to go all the way at the 2020 Olympic Games.”
Olufunke Oshonaike, who competed at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Games for the first time, will be at the Tokyo Olympics for the seventh consecutive time, a feat never attained by any African athlete.
Aruna Quadri is currently ranked 27th in the ITTF male world rankings. In 2014, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) named him as the Player of the Year while he was also part of the Nigerian team that won bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.