By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
The President of the Nigeria Para-Powerlifting Federation, Ichie Chiemeka Charles Ezenwanne, has led Nigeria to yet another triumph at the just concluded 2023 World Para-Powerlifting Championships held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from August 22 to 30.
The Dubai 2023 tournament is one of the compulsory tournaments to qualify for the 2024 Summer Paralympics in Paris, France.
The Nigerian contingent won a total of 2 gold, 2 silver, and 3 bronze medals. The winning standard-bearers include: Mark Onyinyechi, 61kg, Gold; Almaruf Kafila, 73kg, Gold; Esther Nworgu, 41kg, Silver; Omolayo Bose, 79kg, Silver; Oluwafemiayo Folashade, 86kg, Bronze; Ezuruike Roland, 54kg, Bronze; and Kure Thomas, 65kg, Bronze.
Ever since he was elected the President of the Nigeria Para-Powerlifting Federation, Ichie Chiemeka Charles Ezenwanne has given a new lease of life to Para-Powerlifting in Nigeria. It has been successes galore.
The Umuchu, Anambra State-born sports leader has, indeed, enjoyed uncommon triumphs. From the beginning, at the inaugural meeting of the federation held on Tuesday, August 30, 2022, at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, he charged the elected members of his executive board to rise up to responsibilities beyond the ambit of the previous boards. He was quite determined to arrest the dwindling fortunes of Nigeria’s Para-Powerlifting.
He vowed that nothing would stop him from making the sport to bounce back into reckoning under his watch. He did not waste any time whatsoever before setting up some committees to actualise his dream. The committees included Marketing/Sponsorship, Protocol, Technical, Media/Publicity etc.
As an enlightened and inclusive leader, he appointed the immediate past President, Ruel Ishaku, a former athlete, as the new Technical Director. He charged the board to embark on talent hunt programmes all over the country, in all the geo-political zones.
It was paramount in his drive to correct the ills of the past, particularly the embarrassing situation that made Nigeria to lose two crucial gold medals at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in the United Kingdom.
He refused to be daunted by the issue of funding which was the major challenge of the international engagements such as the Egypt and Mexico championships.
An all-conquering enigma, he has completely turned around the fortunes of the hitherto neglected sports federation. President Ezenwanne has profound words of thanks for the former Sports Minister Sunday Dare and also showers praises on Peak Milk for the immense support in the course of the federation’s engagements.
His immense accomplishments include leading Nigerian Para-Powerlifters to a tremendous outing at the African Open Para-Powerlifting Championship in Egypt. Team Nigeria won 43 gold, 14 Silver and two bronze medals. There were additional five gold medals won in the women’s team events. The medal hauls put the team at advantage of qualifying many lifters to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in France.
After the success in Dubai, President Ezenwanne is as ever determined to solicit for more support to attend other upcoming Championships which are also pathways to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. He is urging well-to-do Nigerians and sundry corporate organisations to come to the federation’s assistance.
Ezenwanne told the world press in Dubai: “Watch out for Nigeria in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games!”