BY INNOCENT AMOMOH—
Accomplished Nigerian Paralympian, Grace Anozie, has narrated how her excellent performances in powerlifting have not only changed her parents’ mind about sports, but also made them love her.
Narrating her ordeal in an interview with The Times, Grace, who got paralyzed below the waist following a bout with polio at age two, fell in love with weightlifting, which her parents, who have a strong aversion for sports kicked against.
But all that changed two years on after picking up the sport she reluctantly accepted to do, having been convinced by a friend, earned a bronze medal at the 2000 Paralympic Games, her debut in Paralympic powerlifting in Sydney and won another bronze four years later in Athens.
She raised the bar at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing , where she captured a silver medal and went on to set a new record in the 82.50kg-plus category with a bench press of 168kg in Dubai at the Fazza International Powerlifting Championship.
Later that year in London, at 34, Anozie’s lift of 162kg earned her Paralympic gold.
“My parents don’t believe sports have anything good. They are all about education,” recalled Anozie, who now trains in Chicago, USA, where she is currently surrounded by some of the sport’s best, including Shreveport’s two-time Olympian Kendrick Farris.
She added: “After I won my first medal in international competition, they were like, ‘Wow, we didn’t know you could do this’.
“They are happy. They support me. Whenever I need them, they are there. They are happy. They love me and see me as one of their best kids now, but then it wasn’t like that.
“It makes me feel good. Not having my parents feels like I lost everything, like I’m alone in the world. I didn’t want to lose my parents. I’m happy they are happy with me.
Anozie, whose next steps includes continuing her education, said she by no means feel inferior to able-bodied athletes.
She said: “When I’m competing, we are all equal. It’s the same. Nothing is different. Coach Kyle has been a big help. There are lovely people here. Everyone wants to help me.”
Reacting to Anozie’s talk about living her dreams at Shreveport in Chicago, her coach Kyle Pierce said: “Grace is a good person and very enjoyable to be around. I enjoy talking with her about a lot of things. She has a great deal of wisdom and is an inspiration to everyone in the gym.”