Abuja - President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday announced cash and national honours award for the six gold medalists in the 4 by 400 relay at the 2000 Sydney, Australia Olympic Games.
Jonathan announced cash reward of N5 million each for the athletes and N7 million each for the two coaches at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He also said that the athletes and their coaches would be decorated with national honours at a later date.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the athletes were decorated with the gold medals by the Nigerian representative in the International Olympic Committee, Abul Gumel.
The athletes, who were rewarded 13 years after the sporting event are; Clement Chukwu, Jude Monye, Fidelis Gadzama, Aniefiok Udobong, Nduka Nwanze and late Sunday Bada, who was represented by his wife, Adesumbo.
The two coaches are, Innocent Egbunike and Solomon Abari
NAN recalled that the silver medals won by the Nigeria's 4 by 400 metres relay men at the 2000 games in Sydney was upgraded to gold medal by the International Olympics Committee.
This was due to the disqualification of the USA’s male relay team which initially came first at the event as a result of doping infraction.
Jonathan, who said he was in Sydney for the event as Deputy Governor of Bayelsa, congratulated the team for the honour they brought to the country.
He said the team’s victory, 13 years after the event took place, was a confirmation of the saying that "there is no shortcut to fame.
"For me, I think today, I am as happy as yourself because I was there in Sydney with you as the deputy governor of my State.
"And if this medal was given to you there, I could have had a handshake with you, but what I missed in 2000 I am getting it today.
"So, I personally congratulate you for this, even though the honour you have been accorded today is most belated through no fault of yours, it is as they say, better late than never.
"What your experience has shown is that our sports men and women must endeavour to operate and compete within the rules of the game.
"They must resist any temptation to take a short cut to fame, adulation and wealth.
"Let me also use this unique opportunity to condemn cheating in all its ramifications, whether in sports, or in academics, in business or in politics.
"Be informed that malpractices in any form is evil to the society, we must build a society that puts premium on integrity and transparency and hard work.
"What has been proven by the gold medal that you have just received is that if we do things the right and honest way, truth will always prevail, no matter how long it takes,’’ he said.
The Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, said the event was yet another significant sporting milestone in the history of the country.
He said that with the award, Nigeria moved up from position 55 to 41 on the medal table in the 2000 Olympic Games with one gold; two bronze and two silver medals.
Abdullahi said Nigeria's overall performance at the Olympic Games now stood at three gold, eight silver and 12 bronze to place 68 on the overall medal table.
"Even though this is not a true reflection of Nigeria's huge potential in sport, we are optimistic that with the unprecedented commitment that the president has demonstrated and the various initiative that we are currently undertaking Nigeria will soon be ranked amongst the very best in the world,’’ he said.
The minister acknowledged the efforts made by various people over the years to ensure that the justice was done.
He specifically recognised the efforts of former Ministers of Sports, Sanni Ndanusa and Damishi Sango, who were also present at the event.