NIGERIAN PARALYMPIAN WINS GOLD AT IWAS, THANKS SIR EMEKA OFFOR

Written by Dr. Edwin Ndukwe

At the International Wheelchair & Amputee Sports World Junior Games at Stoke Mandeville, UK, a 23-year-old Paralympian and Powerlifter from Ahmadu Bello University, Emmanuel Godwin, won a Gold medal to make its sole sponsor, Sir Emeka Offor, The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF) and the Federal Republic of Nigeria proud. 

Mr. Godwin bench-pressed a total of 145kg, clearing the bar in top form and outclassing fellow competitors from United Arab Emirates and The Republic of Kazakhstan. The powerlifting session, which took place on August 6 at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium (SMS), attracted a sizeable mixed group of spectators, both able and physically challenged. 

The powerlifting bar was stacked at the beginning of the session with an initial dead weight of 30kg. Thereafter, each new round saw an increment of 20kg. “It is not just the size of the weight that we consider, we also pay attention to the form of a power-lifter and his or her ability to maintain a perfect form through the clearing of the bar with the corresponding weight,” a judge quietly disclosed to SEOF official during the contest.

“There are strict guidelines under the laws of the International Powerlifting Federation,” the Judge continued. “                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

“For instance, after receiving the bar at arms length, the lifter must hold his elbows in a locked position until the signal to begin is given by the referee. Then after, the lifter must lower the bar to the chest before lifting upward with both arms stretched evenly and steady.” 

Sir Offor, who was present at the closing dinner celebration sponsored and hosted by his Foundation, congratulated the IWAS President, Paul DePace, other officials, parents and athletes for a memorable sporting outing marking the 10th anniversary of the ongoing Paralympic movement He said, “I am very pleased to be associated with IWAS and I share in their aspirations to promote unity, friendship and sportsmanship among persons with disability. I am also deeply moved to be standing here, at this historic venue in Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement to commemorate with you, the 10th International Wheelchair & Amputee Sports World Junior Games. 

Like all of you, I believe that we have a tremendous ability even in our disability. I believe that we are "Differently Able." Whatever the able bodied person can do, we can do it and even better. No matter the form of disability we face, we can still dream, we can aspire to great heights and we can compete favorably in today's world. 

In his closing remarks, he sounded words of encouragement to all participants. “To all athletes and future Paralympians, through these games, you have shown amazing courage. You have demonstrated great strength, friendship, enviable camaraderie (solidarity) and a determination to win. So, keep winning and do not despair!”

SIR EMEKA OFFOR; A MORAL CHOICE AND PHILANTHROPY (Part 1)

Written by Dr. Edwin Ndukwe

 

“The Individual, in the isolation imposed on him by his freedom, must make his moral choices and accept responsibility for them”-Jean Paul Sartre           

 

The war against polio in the world rages on. In Nigeria, as one of the 3 remaining endemic countries apart from Afghanistan and Pakistan, the siege is real and Sir Emeka Offor, the first Rotary International Polio Ambassador to Nigeria is in the center of it.

 

 

 

In mid-2012, Sir Offor charged into the ring of the ongoing Global contention against Polio under the umbrella of Rotary International. With a donation of $250,000 to each of the Rotary International cardinal programs, Sir Offor began the journey of fulfilling one of his life's dreams; to curb his childhood community, hence his world, of the disease of polio.

 

 

 

Poliovirus has stolen many untold dreams and aspirations from Nigeria. It has crippled and twisted limbs and minds of millions of once vibrant and ambitious Nigerian toddlers; the future of the nation in its twilight of Renaissance. Yet, there had been many more undocumented casualties of this dreaded preventable disease. The economic burden to the state is unquestionably enormous. The Government of Nigeria, Rotary International and Sir Emeka Offor has waded in and hence are not resting, in spite of the security challenges that often impede immunization exercises, particularly in the Northern part of the State.

 

 

 

Two years since 2012, with a total contribution of 3.3M dollars donated to Rotary International towards Global Polio Eradication Initiative, polio cases are down to 5 in Nigeria, from 53 in 2013.  As a Rotary International Polio Ambassador to Nigeria and a member of Arch C. Klumph Society, Sir Offor remains vigilant and committed to the cause of eradicating polio here and in the world.

 

 

 

 What about Polio survivors? The challenges they face are easily visible in our cities and communities. Too often, their plight attracts very little attention to our conscience. Sir Offor has a different stance when it comes to relating with PWDs. He believes in not only stamping out polio from the world, but he also believes in doing something about survivors. He believes the streets are not the place for them. "Begging for alms on the streets is not an acceptable option for the Disabled. They are Differently Able and should be encouraged. We have the choice to help and we should," he said.

 

 

 

Sir Offor is, therefore, taking bold steps towards empowerment of people with disability. This August, he sponsored a team of Paralympians from Paralympic Committee Of Nigeria to participate in the 10th international Wheelchair & Amputee Sports (IWAS), which held in Stoke Mandeville, UK. The lone Nigerian Paralympian, Emmanuel Godwin, who Sir Offor sponsored brought home a gold medal, making the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation and Nigeria proud.This would mark the first time a private sector entity has risen to the challenge of supporting people with disability to represent Nigeria on the world stage; a gesture, which the Paralympian Team expressly shared their gratefulness.

 

 

 

Speaking at the closing dinner during the IWAS World Junior Games, he reaffirmed his commitment to introduce the Differently Able campaign in his philanthropic agenda and to promote social integration of PWDs.

 

“Like all of you, I believe that we have a tremendous ability even in our disability and that we are "Differently Able,” he said. Echoing the voices of many Paralympians, he said, “Disability is a matter of the heart.”

Sir Emeka Offor Foundation Cheers on Nigerian Team at IWAS Junior Games

It's Day 1 at the International Wheelchair & Amputee Sports (IWAS) Junior Games at Stoke Mandeville, UK, and like a typical English day, it drizzled and drizzled. Then, it drizzled a bit more and while it did, the dark cloud briskly dissipated, giving way for the warm heat of the sun to heal our cold skin.

 

 

The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation is proud to be supporting athletes from the Nigerian Paralympic Committee at the IWAS Junior Games. The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, a non-governmental, philanthropic organization focused on youth employment, families, education, healthcare and infrastructure development donated 2.6 million Naira to help send the Nigerian athletes to the event. The Foundation is the only private sector sponsor of future Nigerian Paralympians.

The mood around the stadium was unchanging unlike the weather and the excitement all around was visibly captivating. There was equally a palpable feeling of nervous anticipation as athletes from about 32 countries around the globe slowly disembarked from the bus, which brought them from Heathrow Airport. Our team, the Nigerian athletes from the Paralympic Committee, after much anticipation, soon arrived and were warmly received by contingents from Sir Emeka Offor Foundation.

 

Miles and miles away from the grandeur and glamour of the more publicized Commonwealth games underway in Glasgow, Scotland, the IWAS junior games commanded a much simpler notoriety in the public domain and the apparent clash of schedule between the two distinct events further affected publicity of the later. Nevertheless, the sports complex was much alive as teams hurried about to make final preparations for the games.

 

On Sunday, the 3rd of August, amid the abiding spirit of unity, friendship and sportsmanship among persons with disability, the IWAS Federation will draw the curtain back at exactly 4pm, to mark the official opening of the 10th International junior Games at the birthplace of the Paralympic movement.

 

The Under-23 World Junior Games offers the world’s best young athletes with disabilities the opportunity to compete in diverse games that used to be the exclusive reserve of able-bodied men and women. 

Sir Offor has made relentless efforts in the fight to eradicate Polio from Nigeria and indeed the world by his generous donations of over $3 million USD to Rotary Polio Plus. Meanwhile, the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation has organized massive Polio Immunization campaigns.

The effects of Polio cannot be over-emphasized. Polio victims face the daily challenges that life presents and the challenges of living with disability.

 

“The fight against Polio starts with vaccines but the real challenge is in supporting those already affected by Polio," said Rosaline Agiamoh, Polio Ambassador Representative at an earlier ceremony. "We want to let Polio survivors know they are not alone or forgotten. We are here to help them through their daily struggles."

 

The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation hopes Nigeria's athletes competing in the Under-23 World Junior Games serve as role models for those in developing countries like Nigeria to encourage those with disabilities to strive for more.

The 10th Under-23 World Junior Games continues through August 8th.

 

Source: Sir Emeka Offor Foundation

Edwin Ndukwe

Video: Disability is in the heart; Differently Able

 #ImAble - The International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) Junior Games will once again take place this year from 1st to 8th August 2014. The Games will be hosted at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in the UK, the birthplace of the International Paralympic movement.

 Entries from 350 athletes accompanied by 150 support staff, from 32 countries, have been received and they will compete in seven sports which include Archery, Athletics and Race Running, Powerlifting, Swimming, Table Tennis and Wheelchair Fencing while Para-Taekwondo will be included as an exhibition sport. Athletes between the ages of 14 and 22 will be competing at the Games, which will serve as an ample opportunity to participate in the upcoming Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The IWAS games is important and through the Paralympic Committee of Nigeria and People With Disability Initiative, an Abuja based NGO, a Nigerian Paralympic contingent, supported by Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF) has been assembled to fly the Nigerian flag and take part in this all important generational cum epochal event. Nigeria’s David Ombugudu will be vying for Table Tennis gold while Emmanuel Godwin will participate in weightlifting.

Disability is a function of the mind-set, I can do anthing with my life if I pick up the challenge. I have no legs but I can make something out of my life, I can even do better than someone with legs

...is how Emmanuel feels.

Both athletes are under 23 Gold Medallists and polio survivors who are living testimonies that there is ability in disability.The Nigerian contingent will be led by Sir Emeka Offor, Rotary International Polio Ambassador in Nigeria and founder of the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation. Sir Emeka has set polio eradication as a foremost priority not only for Nigeria but for  the remaining endemic countries as well.

To date, Sir Emeka has funded over US$3 million to Rotary International Polio Plus programme - the largest global public health programme. The world must remain committed in order to achieve a polio-free world. If we don't stay the course, experts say polio could rebound to 10 million cases in the next 40 years, and would negate the billions invested in the initiative.

SEOF will be launching a new program called “Differently Able”, during the IWAS Games. Differently Able will focus on assisting polio survivors in Nigeria.

SEOF has provided financial support (2.6 million Naira) to the Nigerian Paralympic team to enable them to take part in the 2014 IWAS Games. Differently Able will assist those who have survived polio to fly higher socially, physically and professionally.

Sir Emeka while leading the Nigerian Paralympian team to Stoke Mandeville wishes them a successful outing and in the spirit of the Games, charges all to be worthy ambassadors of the country by bringing home medals.

 

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