In this exclusive interview with Completesports.com, at the unveiling of the Lagos Ability Games, African table tennis champion Ahmed Koleosho disclosed why special athletes are always sidelined despite bringing honour and glory to Nigeria.
He also spoke about his plans for the future when he eventually retire from table tennis.
Your thoughts on the unveiling of the Lagos Ability Games?
I feel very happy that at last that an event will be organised specially for persons with disability. This is more like a mini Paralympic event for special athletes in Lagos State. And once again Lagos State has proven that they are the pace setters in Nigeria. I want to say very big thank you LASODA for this initiative and governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for always supporting not just special sports but sport generally in Lagos State. So I want to say a very big thank you, this means a lot to the development of sports and special sport in Lagos State. I’m sure after several years it’s going to be the development of sport generally in Nigeria.
Where do you see Lagos Ability Games in the few years to come?
In the next few years it’s going to be a national competition for special athletes. It’s going to lead to more development of sport and it’s going to also lead to discovery of more talents because it takes a while for someone like me to be recognized. But with this avenue it’s not going to take a long time for the young upcoming talents to be discovered and to be encouraged. So I think this is a very good initiative.
Talking about special athletes not being recognized despite performing at international events, why do you think it’s always like that?
It’s Just the society we find ourselves, awareness is not there and that stigmatization. But it’s getting better and especially in Lagos State it’s a whole lot better. Government have always done their best to make life easy for persons with disability. As I said it took a while but things are getting better. This is part of the initiative that Lagos State has always been doing in making life better for persons with disability, not only sport but education and other aspect.
So it’s just basically level of awareness and stigmatization that caused that but like I said it’s getting a lot better now.
Let’s look at your journey into table tennis, when did you go into the sport and what are your achievements?
I started professionally in 2012 and since then till now I have won lots of laurels for Lagos State and the country. I’ve won gold medal at the African championship, several world competitions. I have been at the Paralympic two times. As also I’m the representative of athletes in Lagos State, not just the special athletes but all athletes. So far so good these are just the little accomplishments.
What are your plans for the future especially when you call it quit from the sport?
In years to come I want to start doing things that would help persons with disability in the society. I would also like to get involve in things that would help in the discovery of new talents.
As time goes on we have to look at how we’ve impacted the life of others and younger talents coming. So, next couple of years I would be doing what I know how to do, competing and also try to see how I can start up something that’s on developing talents.
And looking at the financial aspect as a special athlete, would you say you have done well for yourself?
It can always be a lot better, we are just managing and that’s why we are also telling private sector to come in because we special athletes are very marketable. There’s nothing bad in using someone like an accomplished athlete like me for endorsement compared to my able athletes. They should look into the special sport athletes as a brand and that would also help and encourage more special athletes.
By James Agberebi
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