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Dalung wants support for athletes

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Alexander Okere, Benin

The Minister of Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, has decried what he described as “negative publicity” given to Nigerian athletes.

Dalung  said this  after the 5th Okpekpe International 10km Road Race in Edo State on Saturday.

The bronze-label race held in Okpekpe, a community in Etsako East Local Government Area of the state, attracted athletes from different African countries.

According to Dalung, sportsmen and women in the country  deserve support and encouragement rather than condemnation.

He  said, “Success in sports does not reside only with the government. But it is all-encompassing. Government can invest billions in the training of an athlete. But at the dying  minute, a negative publicity can destroy the efforts and the athletes will not perform.

“I have said this several times that we lost a medal in Rio (Olympics) because of negative publicity. We had a very wonderful athlete that we invested so much in. But at the dying minute, she read a negative story about the Nigerian team in Rio and she wept all night long and went to the track and lost.

The minister added, “So, this is how effective collective support for our athletes can make or mar their success. It is not only about government impression but how the environment is prepared to support.”

A British athlete was the last in Rio. But the BBC was running a commentary and it was commending her and she finished. So, she is now challenged to do more next time.”

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