By MathewDadiya, Abuja
Speaking after the remarks by the athletes and a video presentation of their participation in the recent championship in South Africa, Prof. Osinbajo expressed delight at the conduct of the gymnasts, their coaches and parents, especially as he was only becoming aware of the abundance of talents in the sport in Nigeria.
The world-class gymnasts from TIG International Gymnastics Club, Abuja, a private sporting club whose members, visited Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to the Vice President, “this for me is very heartwarming, intriguing and exciting because there is really great hope for gymnastics in Nigeria, especially people who are starting so very young.
“I want to commend TIG Gymnastics International, and of course, Coach Anthony Asuquo and other coaches and even the parents. I think you are pioneers of some sort in encouraging your children to be gymnasts.”
Osinbajo said, “I am greatly encouraged by what we are seeing, especially that so many of the kids are winning medals and doing well in gymnastics.
“I see a lot of the athletics categories and how well people are doing, but I think that we really have some great potential, and just seeing the video, it is evident that there is a lot of promise and talent that is available here in Nigeria.”
“Anywhere you have been, the fact that you are so good and you have performed so well and won medals, is evident that you are patriotic and you are truly Nigerian and you love your country and you want your country to do well,” the VP added.
He then commended the founder of the club for his efforts over the years, noting that areas of possible support from the government would be explored especially in ensuring that more talents are nurtured to national and international prominence.
At once impressionable and impressive, vibrant and agile youngsters fascinated the Vice President with scintillating gymnastics and acrobatic displays alongside stories of their experiences in national and international tournaments winning laurels for Nigeria.
The gymnasts decked in sporting outfits, accompanied by their coaches, parents and handlers, altogether a group of about 40.
Selected members of the club who took turns to speak about their experiences so far in the sport, talked about their experiences as international athletes, winning laurels for Nigeria, even as upcoming gymnasts.
An 8-year-old Dolapo Adedeji who spoke on behalf of the young gymnasts, appealed that gymnastics training at the club and some of the challenges faced by athletes and officials, especially in the area of facilities, seeking the support of the government and well-meaning Nigerians.
Tomisin Babatunde who has bagged gold and 6 bronze medals to his credit so far, thanked the founder of the club and sponsors for the support given to him especially in actualizing his dream of becoming a professional gymnast.
Stephanie Onusiriuka, who started professional gymnastics in October 2018 and won a gold medal at the recently held Africa Gymnastics Championships in Pretoria, South Africa, thanked the Vice President for the visit to the Presidential Villa.
At the 2019 National Youth Games in Ilorin, Stephanie won several silver and bronze medals to become Nigeria’s youngest medalist in gymnastics.
Earlier in his remarks, the founder of TIG International Gymnastics Club, Mr Asuquo, said the club founded 11 years ago, has trained 3,000 athletes, nurtured several gymnastics coaches and represented the country at international competitions.
He solicited support, especially in the provision of training facilities, and sponsorship of athletes and officials to national and international gymnastics competitions.
The youngsters came to the Presidential Villa with robust sporting acumen, shown partly in some sporting performances they put up after hearing from the VP and judging from what they said afterwards, both the youngsters and their handlers left with even more inspiration.