Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo was thrilled by the acrobatic displays of young Nigerian gymnasts who recounted stories of their experiences in the national and international tournaments, winning laurels for Nigeria.
A statement from the Office of the Vice President said the vibrant and agile young gymnasts, visited Vice President Yemi Osinbajo decked in sporting outfits.
They are from the TIG International Gymnastics Club, Abuja, a private sporting club in Abuja and were accompanied by their coaches, parents, and handlers.
The gymnastics club, tutored by Coach Anthony Asuquo, is blazing the trail, nurturing young talents and featuring them in several competitions already.
After the introduction of the delegation and brief remarks by their leader, selected members of the club took turns to speak about their experiences so far in the sport.
Multiple gold medal-winning athletes, Stephanie Onusiriuka and Tomisin Babatunde, and the spokesperson of the club, also a youngster Dolapo Adedeji, spoke particularly about their experiences.
Eight-year-old Dolapo Adedeji who spoke on behalf of the young gymnasts was full of praises for the Vice President, especially for finding time to meet the team.
She spoke about 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.
Dolapo assured the Vice President that athletes ”at the club would continue to work harder to make their parents, the club, and the country proud at both national and international competitions.”
On his part, 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 actualising his dream of becoming a professional gymnast.
He thanked the Vice President for finding time out of his busy schedule to meet members of the club, noting that the gesture would spur them to soar higher.
On her part, teenage sensation, Stephanie Onusiriuka thanked the Vice President for the visit to the Presidential Villa.
She started professional gymnastics in October 2018 and won a gold medal at the recently held Africa Gymnastics Championships in Pretoria, South Africa.
At the 2019 National Youth Games in Ilorin, Stephanie won several silver and bronze medals to become Nigeria’s youngest medalist in gymnastics.
Professor 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 sports in Nigeria.
“This for me is very heartwarming, intriguing and exciting because there is 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, other coaches and even the parents. I think you are pioneers of some sort in encouraging your children to be gymnasts,” the VP said.
Professor Osinbajo said; “I am greatly encouraged by what I am 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 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.”
Professor Osinbajo commended the two gymnasts, Dolapo and Tomisin.
Acknowledging the abundance of talents in the country, the Vice President said that “what we are seeing here is what Nigeria truly is. Nigeria is a country filled with incredible talents and there are also incredible opportunities.”
Urging the coaches, athletes, and their parents to be good ambassadors of Nigeria, the VP said; “when you listen to people talk about their countries, many countries are not anywhere near as good or as promising as Nigeria, but people always speak well of their countries, especially outside the country. “
“I want to encourage you to always think of your country in a positive light and to speak well of your country because nobody will speak well of your country better than you will.
“There are many countries that are not in any way near Nigeria, but their citizens speak well of their country. So, you must speak well of your country and represent your country well.
“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 Professor Osinbajo said.
He commended the founder of the club for his efforts over the years, stressing that areas of possible support from the government would be explored especially in ensuring that more talents were nurtured to national and international prominence.
The founder of TIG International Gymnastics Club, Mr Asuquo, said the club was founded 11 years ago and 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.