The Athletes yesterday, August 10 presented medals won in various competitions to the Presidential couple in a grandiose ceremony at the Statehouse.
It was all a language of satisfaction, gesture of recognition and an atmosphere of national pride that threaded through the population that joined President Paul Biya and wife, Chantal to celebrate the numerous victories recorded by the country's athletes during a medley of international sporting competitions.
The thirst for such an event was very evident from the content of the speeches and the veracity of emotions that greeted the arrival of the athletes at the Ambassadors' hall of the Unity Palace. As fate would have it, it was just a ceremony that needed no other thing than words of praise, congratulations and gratification. And, President Paul Biya did just that. No medal winner for the current sporting season was left out. In the same way, most, if not, all of the trainers involved in the competition were given the chance to equally shake hands with the Presidential couple.
It was equally one of those rare occasions where some media men who accompanied the athletes were honoured. Led by the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Pierre Ismael Bidoung Mpkatt, who headed the team of athletes to the just ended Francophonie games in Abidjan, the athletes filed in, in succession, presented their medals and shook hands with President Biya and wife, Chantal before being decorated in the second sequence of the ceremony with various meritorious national medals. These included: Knight of Order of Valor to gold medallists, knight of Order of Merit to the Trainers, Rank of fourth Order of Merit to Silver medallists and Rank of third Order of Sport Merit to Bronze medallists.
The cream of members of government and that of the diplomatic corps was visibly present giving the ceremony the grandeur it deserved. True Ambassadors There was no better way to describe the medallists than the lubrications in the nation's recognition speech presented by the Head of State. "You are the symbol of the Cameroon that we like, the Cameroon that we want and the Cameroon that wins" President Biya said, reminding the athletes of the pride the country has for them. Cameroonians in both the countryside and cities are vibrating in the rhythm of their victory, he assured, stating inter alia that theirs is a beaten record within the past decade. The athletes, holders of 60 gold medals, 64 silver medals and 88 bronze from African and other international competitions were reminded of the impact of their performance which remains a veritable translation of their patriotism making them models to the rest of the country's youths. The President in his speech equally gave a special pat on the back of the trainers, many who answered present at the ceremony.
Yesterday's event was occasion for the President to assure Cameroonians and the World of sports of the country's readiness to host the next Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON 2019. "The Africa Cup of Nations is tomorrow, Cameroon shall be ready. I have taken the engagement", he said, ending his speech in the following words among others, "Cameroon is proud of you, Cameroon likes you."
In response and speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Bell Ngingjel Franck Parisi, holder of gold on Judo from the Yaounde International Tournament, expressed satisfaction at the privilege given to them by the Presidential couple. "The regular presence of the Lions at the Unity Palace made us to dream", he said. While thanking all those who contributed to their victory, he begged the Head of State to accept their appreciation for the messages of encouragement which he sent to them through the Minister of Sports and Physical Education saying they inspired them and gave them the necessary fighting spirit to victory.