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Uduaghan honours Okagbare as Delta Youths' Ambassador, rewards her with N2.5m

By The Citizen
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Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta on Friday honoured Blessing Okabare as the state's Youths' Ambassador, for making the country proud at the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships.

The championships held in Moscow, Russia, from Aug. 10 to Aug. 18.

Uduaghan also announced a N2.5 million cash reward to the athlete and an annual $120,000 training grant to her for the next three years, ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Okagbare won Silver and Bronze medals in long jump and the 200 metres, respectively, at the championships.

The governor also announced that the state government would reward the athlete with parcels of land in Asaba, the state capital.

Daniel Esebiminor, the coach who discovered her, and Gabriel Okon, the athlete's coach at the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), got cash rewards of N2 million each.

The governor also announced a $20,000 reward for Okagbare's international coach, John Smith, for his role in her success at the games.

He noted that youths in the state were talented in sports, adding that if well harnessed, could earn them an income and also make the state proud.

Uduaghan tasked the state's Sports Commission to intensify efforts and identify at least three athletes, to be trained for the 2016 Olympics.

He thanked President Jonathan for honouring the athlete, and commended the AFN, the state Sports Commission and all others, for their roles in bringing her to the limelight and international recognition.

Earlier, the Chairman of the state's Sports Commission, Mr Amaju Pinnick, thanked the governor for establishing the commission and empowering it to develop sports in the state.

He attributed the successes achieved in the area of sports in the state to the governor's commitment to sporting activities.

Pinnick assured the governor that new talents were being discovered in the state, adding that other younger athletes had started recording successes in both national and international engagements.

Also speaking, Chief Solomon Ogba, President, AFN, said that Uduaghan had played a vital role in the development of sports in the state, noting that Delta had been excelling in sports.

'When you took over Okagbare, the story of her life changed. For 14 years, Nigeria never won anything at such championships.

'The laurels won by Okagbare have today put Nigeria in the 19th position on the medals table in the world,'' he said.

In her response, Okagbare, who sobbed while reading her address, thanked the state governor and all who played vital roles in her success.

She appealed to the Federal and State Governments to make more efforts toward developing facilities for the training of athletes in the country.

President Goodluck Jonathan announced cash rewards of N3 million and N3.5 million for Okagbare and her coach,  Esebiminor, respectively, in Abuja on Wednesday.

The president added that the athlete and her coach would also to be conferred with national honours, later in the year.