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Para Games 2022: Team Bayelsa emerge champions

After six days of exceptional displays in multiple sporting events, the maiden edition of the National Para Sports Festival has ended in Abuja, with Team Bayelsa State making history as overall champions.

After competing in 15 Para-Sports events, Team Bayelsa emerged with a total of 93 medals, consisting of 31 Gold, 30 Silver and 32 Bronze medals, and finishing tops on the Game’s final table, ahead of Team Oyo, which placed 2nd with a total of 60 medals – made up of 24 Gold, 15 silver and 21 Bronze medals.

Team Kano was 3rd, with 42 medals consisting 21 Gold, 13 Silver and 8 Bronze medals.

Team Edo placed 4th, Ondo (5th), Imo (6th) and the FCT (7th).

The highlight of events on the last day of competition was the final of Deaf Soccer, a sport that thrilled the spectators in their hundreds at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, while the Gold medal went to Team Abia, who narrowly defeated Nasarawa State One-Nil.

In his closing remarks, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare expressed delight at the successful staging of the festival as well as the level of competitiveness at the Games.

Mr Dare said the athletes have always been deserving of such a festival, describing it as their contribution to Nigeria’s image internationally, particularly given the medals hauled by the country’s special athletes at successive Paralympic Games, which he said “has been very inspiring”.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Alhaji Ismaila Abubakar, Mr Dare thanked all contingents that competed for honours at the festival, and promised them a bigger Games going forward.

He reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to always prioritise the welfare of Special Athletes, hence the creation of a special department for para sports in the Ministry.

The 2nd edition of the National Para Games is expected to take place next year, and thereafter, it will hold every two years.

The minister said the 2022 edition was deliberately packed, with a view to reducing the financial burden on States in having to fund athletes for both the National Para Games and National Sports Festival in the same year.

Some 21 states participated in the maiden edition, which held from April9 to 15.

Reporting by Chinedum Ohanusi; Editing by Daniel Adejo and Tony Okerafor