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Bayelsa did not neglect Gloria Kemasuode, says Alabrah

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Bayelsa State government has revealed the role it played trying to save former Nigerian sprinter, Gloria Kemasuode from her mental issues before the situation degenerated some years ago.

Kemasuode, a member of the Nigerian 4x100m quartet that won a silver medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, has been battling with mental illness and depression for about five years. The former sprint queen was finally plucked off the streets and placed on medical treatment at the Federal Medical Centre in Yenogoa last week by the President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Ibrahim Gusau.

However, the Special Assistant on Public Affairs to Bayelsa State Governor, Daniel Alabrah said yesterday that the state had been taken care of Kemasuode in the past two years.

“We won’t join issues with anyone on this matter. But if AFN has evidence that it is picking Gloria’s bill, let them provide it. She is a staff of the Bayelsa State Sports Council, which has been taking care of her in the last two years when this problem started. She has also been receiving her salary regularly. Where was AFN? Did she represent Bayelsa or Nigeria? 

“We are not looking for credit or commendation on this matter. Gloria is a national icon and we think she deserves to be cared for,” he stated.

Alabrah’s statement initially cast doubts on claims by the AFN boss that he is the one taking care of the medical bills of the athlete.

While some athletics buffs were still wondering if the AFN president, Gusau lied on his claim, another statement came from Alabrah: “I just spoke to the Director of Sports in the Bayelsa State Sports Council, who said the council was initially taking care of her but now the AFN has taken over her treatment and the medical bill at the FMC, Yenagoa. This clarification is necessary to avoid needless controversy.”

Kemasuode, who for close to five years was on a hard climb to mental fitness after being sucked into the vaults of depression, is said to be recovering fast.

Many athletics followers have been praising the AFN boss, Gusau, for the initiative in taking the athlete from the streets in Yenagoa.

Kemasuode’s life was in full swing as she settled in Australia after the Sydney 2000 Olympics Games, where she got married to an Australian citizen.

But her road to sadness began when she parted ways with her partner. She then came back to Nigeria, and found love again with her childhood sweetheart, thinking that she would be happy and safe, but that turned out to be a wrong choice.

Kemasuode was part of Team Nigeria to the Beijing 2008 Olympics Games, where she helped Nigeria’s 4x100m relay team to a bronze medal. It was later elevated to a silver medal after a Russian athlete failed a drug test.

Trouble started for Kemasuode when she parted with her new love, a relationship she invested all the money she made from athletics.

Her new man soon left with all their investment and when she was still battling with the heartbreak, Kemasuode lost her father. Her world practically fell apart and she drifted into emptiness, resulting in depression.


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