Sydney 2000 Olympic silver medallist, Ruth Ogbeifo-Balofin has expressed her displeasure for not being recognized among the 60 Nigerian Sports Icons, the sportsbay.com reports.
It will be recalled that the federal government on Friday recognized sports icons at the Velodrome of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium Abuja.
Ogbeifo-Balofin said despite winning laurels for the country at the World Weightlifting Championship, she went further to become the first African woman to win a medal in the weightlifting event at the Olympics.
She said, “I hold no grudge not been among the 60 Nigeria Sports Icon but it is painful that after spending 8 hours every day while training, getting injured and recovering, becoming an All African Games Champion, African Champion, World Champion and Olympic Silver medallist, my country still did not deem it fit to recognize me among their sports Icon.
“For record purpose, I am not only I Champion in my sport, I have also produced African Games Champions in weightlifting through my Ruth Ogbeifo-Balofin Community Project (ROBCOP) in Offa, Kwara state.
“If my country does not honour me, I know God in heaven will honour me. Outside Nigeria, I get treated like a queen whenever they know I won a medal at the Olympics but in Nigeria, I will have to lobby to get things done.
The former World Champion said she will not get discouraged in impacting the lives of the less privileged athletes in Nigeria.
She said, “This award opened my eyes to so many things in the country. I will focus on how to impact positively in the lives of athletes who cannot afford to train outside the country. For record purposes, the equipment and facilities I bought for athletes in Nigeria is running to over 10 million naira.
“I know someday, people who will appreciate my efforts and sacrifices for Nigeria will come”.
Ruth Ogbeifo-Balofin lifted 245kg same as Colombian Maria Urrutia who won the gold medal because of her lower body weight at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
She missed the gold medal in the 75kg by the slightest of technical margins.