A decade ago, the Federal Government of Nigeria under the presiding authority of President Goodluck Jonathan – The multi-sporting initiative to discover and nurture talents to win laurels for the country in the future and shape their lives against social vices.
Ten years on, the purpose remains undefeated as thousands of talents have been discovered and nurtured to the excitement and gains of Nigerians.
Amongst the shining stars at the ongoing 7th edition of the National Youth Games, 13-year-old swimmer, Demilade Akanbi, a student of Children International School Lagos, representing Team Lagos has raised her heads above the shoulders of others with laurels won for the state and inking her family name on the heart of many.
Many watched and read about the great Michael Phelps, and the queen of the pool, Kathleen Genevieve Ledecky, but the astounding performance put up by the Children’s International School Junior Secondary School 3 students is enough to announce her as the next big thing in the Nigerian aquatic sphere. Her readiness to explore the scene made her mother, Mrs. Atolani Akanbi assert in her interview with journalists that the media practitioners should hold Nigeria responsible if her daughter fails to win laurels at the world stage – African Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics
Normally any chance for just a single gold medal is enough weight of expectancy on any athlete, but for Demilade that can be multiplied by three as many hopes, and indeed expect, her to do something which many for years have said is impossible.
Demilade however went on to produce one of the best individual performances in the history of the games, winning three Gold medals.
Demilade’s victories in the 50-meter Backstroke, 100-meter Butterfly, and 4×50-meter Mixed Medley Relay are a testament to her exceptional skills and versatility in swimming.
Demilade’s elation and excitement are entirely justified, considering her remarkable performance in her first appearance at the National Youth Games.
Her enthusiasm is evident in her words,
“This is my first time participating in the National Youth Games, and I am quite excited because of all the medals I won.”She said.
Demilade’s determination all through the tournament is inspiring. Her commitment to continuously improving her skills with the goal of one day competing at the Olympics and breaking records shows her ambition and dedication to the sport of swimming.
“I will keep improving on my talent, my dream is to make it to the Olympics and also break records” ” she added.
The support and motivation Demilade receives from her mother are undoubtedly valuable factors contributing to her success.
Having a strong support system can make a significant difference in an athlete’s journey, and it’s heartening to hear about the role her mother plays in helping her achieve her goals in swimming.
“I get a lot of motivation from my Mom. She helps and motivates me, whenever “I am faced with any challenge she is always there to guide me through.
“I must say her motivation and support plays a key role in what I have achieved today”. She concluded.
Stephen Cole, a former Nigeria international and one-time Special Assistant to former Delta state Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, believes, Demilade has what it takes to be an Olympic Champion.
“There is no other stage for you, to prove your talent than here, especially in a country like ours.”
“The youngster demonstrated qualities and I hope she makes it to the top ” He said.
Demilade is on a promising path toward a successful swimming career. Her achievements are a source of pride and hope for Nigerian sports.