Rio Olympics: Nigerian athletes beg for funds

Okwelogu INSETS: George, left and Ogunlewe

SOME of the foreign-based athletes to represent Nigeria at 2016 Rio Olympics have allegedly resorted to begging, in order to raise for funds from well-meaning individuals and Nigerians in particular to enable them to make the trip.

The action of the athletes, Tribunesport gathered, could not be unconnected with the late release of funds by the authorities, which has affected preparation for the Games scheduled to run from August 5 to 21 in Brazil.

The athletes who allegedly took to the social media to raise funds for Rio 2016 are Regina George, Seye Ogunlewe jnr and Nwanneka Okwelogu.

American-born sprinter, George who represented Nigeria at the London 2012 Olympics, through her twitter handle allegedly writes “Help get me to the Olympics. To all my family friends and fans, thanks for being here for me through the good times and bad times. This year it’s been hard financially for me but it wouldn’t have been possible without your support”.

The 2012 African Championships silver medallist allegedly stated that her action was as a result of the orders that the athletes would pay to respect Nigeria at Rio 2016 because of paucity of funds.

“I just been told that we will have to pay our own way to the Olympics this year. Sadly this is such short notice for me to come up with the money.

“They (sports authorities) also promised a refund but I’m still waiting for many refunds promised in the past. I been through a lot of obstacles this year and through it all, I made my second Olympic team. I don’t want to stop now after I earned a spot to represent my country (Nigeria) in the Olympics.

“Any donation will help my situation. This will not go unnoticed and I’m truly grateful for my supporters,” George writes through regina george @DivaOnTheTrack.

At the time of filing this report, George had allegedly raised about ($1895) about N701, 000 from donors.

Also, Nigeria’s fastest man, Ogunlewe jnr through his twitter handle, Seye Ogunlewe jnr @seyeogunlewe, confirmed the directive allegedly issued by the sports ministry.

“Just so everyone knows we all got that message saying we should get our own tickets to Rio!” said Ogunlewe whose personal best in 100m stands at 10.19seconds which he posted at the 2015 Loughborough meet in Great Britain.

Shot-putter, Nwanneka Okwelogu, who allegedly belongs to the list as of the time of this report has allegedly raised ($635) about N235,000 from spirited individuals who want her feature at Rio 2016.

Meanwhile, the letter which purportedly emanated from the sports ministry and entitled: Reservation/Payment of ticket to Rio/refund of ticket reads in part:

“I am directed to find out from you, the possibility of purchasing your Air Ticket to Rio, which will be refunded to you by the Ministry (Sports and Social Development), but, the Ministry need to know, how much is the economy ticket from your base, to Rio (Brazil), whether it is in line with the approved budget. Kindly send us a reservation economy ticket with cost for approval by the Ministry, before you purchase any tickets, pls. This development is as a result of challenges faced in buying ticket pls. Pls, respond as soon as possible…”