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I Didn’t Want To Return To Nigeria After Paralympics – Tijani

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Tijani said there was a sharp contrast in the way para-athletes were treated in Nigeria and Japan, adding that she was left in awe and never wanted to return to Nigeria.

Latifat Tijani, a Nigerian Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games gold medallist has disclosed how she thought about never returning to the country because of the treatment meted out to para-athletes.

Tijani won Team Nigeria’s first gold medal at the just-concluded Paralympics Games, an improvement on her previous record of 106kg, which earned her silver medal at the 2016 edition in Rio.

She also won bronze in the women’s 45kg event at the 2019 World Para-Powerlifting Championships.

Speaking with The Punch, Tijani said there was a sharp contrast in the way para-athletes were treated in Nigeria and in Japan, adding that she was left in awe and never wanted to return to Nigeria.

She said, “I go through a lot of challenges on a daily basis and getting to the stadium for training wasn’t always easy. Though efforts were made by me and the Ogun State Sports Commission, they were not enough because I am the breadwinner of my home and what I earn can’t really take care of us.

“But I’m very determined to ensure that I succeed and that’s why I am not relenting in my efforts and I will continue to make my people and Nigeria proud.”

She added, “But the treatment given to us by the Japanese government at the Paralympics in Tokyo was massive and to be honest I never wanted to come back home.

“If I had had the opportunity to remain there, I wouldn’t have made a return because I was well taken care of and they were prepared for the para-athletes, they made us feel so special to a point that I started crying. This shows how much we were well taken care of.

“Everything was so easy for us, it was not difficult to go out and return home using our wheelchairs. Also, talking of our medicals, fixing our wheelchair, everything was free and I wished it was the same in Nigeria.

“The thought of staying there crossed my mind, but I had to think of my family and children. I really respect their organisational system and their love for us.”

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