Caretaker Committee Chairman of the Nigerian Wrestling Federation, Daniel Igali, believes the country has fighters fit to win medals at forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Five wrestlers, including Odunayo Adekuoroye, Aminat Adeniyi, Blessing Oborududu, Adijat Idris and Ekerekeme Agiomor recently took part in the Poland Open, a ranking series tournament in Warsaw, where Adekuoroye and Oborududu returned with a gold and silver medals respectively.
Speaking on Tuesday, Igali said the body was doing everything possible to ensure that the wrestlers excel at the Games, which holds between July 23 and August 8.
“We started camping almost a month before the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development called for official camping and it was with the approval of the minister. We had discussions with the ministry because the competition in Poland means the wrestlers would have to be in camp earlier before the ministry’s approved date.
“As you know, the Association of Nigerian Wrestling headed by myself always pride ourselves in early preparation. We brought in three training partners per athlete and we were really ready for the tournament in Poland. Though a couple of our wrestlers, Amina Adeniyi and Adijat Idris, who lost out, wrestled well, it was not just their day.
“Oborududu wrestled extremely well and lost in the final to someone I think is one of the top wrestlers in the world, France’s Koumba Larroque. While Adekuoroye made a mincemeat of every opponent she met to win the gold medal in her weight class, including the current Olympic champion, Helen Maroulis and the current silver medalist from Russia, Valeria Zholobova before,” he said.
Igali said his federation has lightened the wrestlers’ burden on the to ensure that they are not under too much pressure, adding, “as an Olympic champion I know what it means to be at the Games, especially now that the Olympics is about a month away.
“These wrestlers go through a lot of issues because there is enormous pressure here and there. At times an athlete will tell you that he or she does not have any pressure, since he or she is training real well for the championship. But I can tell you they are almost there. What we need to do now is to reduce the pressure on them, get the right training partners and then get the right training programmes to be ready for any championship.”
Igali said each of the wrestlers would be given the chance to feature in at least 12 matches before the Olympics, adding, “we will be having two mini-tournaments in Bayelsa and thereafter, they will have a few weeks break. As you know, they just came back from Poland and so we are giving them a couple of days off and then we will return to start right back in the grind,” he stated.
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