Can #Nigeria #Wrestlers Make Gold-Grabbing History in #Rio Olympics?, By Kuti Dare


It is no longer news that the Nigeria wrestling federation team is the strongest in Africa and has led to it’s dominance both in the continent.

It remains to be seen if they will take their continental conquering feat to the world level for the first time at this year’s Olympics.

In less than 50 days, the 2016 Rio Olympics will commence in Rio de Jenaerio, Brazil with the Team Nigeria’s wrestling team having recently commenced local training. Though Nigeria wrestlers race against time and low training standard to confront their highly motivated opponents world over, but had been showing great determination to make gold medals-grabbing success in Rio come August, even when many challenges are halting their preparations.

Across the globe, Rio Olympics-bound contending wrestling nations have been attending invitational tournament and willing to compete in more but Nigeria wrestlers are yet to attend any.

Nigeria chances of winning a medal looks slim with Odunayo Adekuoroye (53Kg) and Blessing Oborududu (63Kg) showing promising medal prospect for the country.

On experience and form assessment, Adekuoroye participated at the Pro wrestling league last year, while Oborududu is the only Olympian in the team.

The nation’s wrestling team will be well remembered in the book of history in the year 2015 as their medals-grabbing performance helped Nigeria finish second overall behind winners Egypt and avoid recording a disastrous outing at the 2015 All Africa Games in Congo, Brazzaville.

Adekuoroye also attended the 2015 World Wrestling Championship in Las Vegas, where she won a bronze medal and grabbed a ticket for the Rio Olympics.

She also participated at the world grand prix in Baku, Azerbaijan where she also won a bronze medal leading to her signing a deal with an Indian wrestling team, Mumbai Granuda.

At the pro wrestling league, Adekuoroye was labeled the dancing wrestler because before and after her bout she dances (To God for victory) as she won the best wrestler of the tournament.

2016 was a mixed fortune for the wrestling federation as they participated at the Africa Championship and Olympics qualifiers, where Nigeria emerged Africa champions as the female team won five gold and two silver medals while their male counterparts nicked one gold, one silver and two Bronze medals.

At the Olympics qualifiers, four females and two male wrestlers qualified to complete seven that will compete in wrestling event in Rio.

After such impressive outing, the next target is the Olympics proper as the federation kick started training three weeks ago after the pre-Olympics camping in Bayelsa to keep the wrestlers in shape.

Under the watch of Hon. Daniel Igali, president Nigeria wrestling federation, the team has recorded huge success since May 2013 till date as the nation has conquered foes both home and abroad.

Last Monday June 6, a team of 18 wrestlers consisting of the qualified athletes and their training partners stormed Abuja for the final phase of the Rio Olympics preparations.

Between June and July the Nigeria wrestling federation has three international invitational tournaments which they may likely miss due to the unavailability of funds.

First, the International Wrestling tournament (in Cornianu and Ladislau Simon seniors’ freestyle and women) scheduled for 18-19 June, 2016 in Bucharest, Romania. Secondly, 2016 Canada cup of international wrestling tournament for June 25, 2016 in Guelph Ontario, Canada and thirdly, the International campus training Madrid, Spain from 11-16th July, 2016.

If the team fails to attend any of the invitational tournaments it simply means their coaches will not be able to give a valuable evaluation of various athletes knowing where their strength and weaknesses lies because they have always trained with the same person for over two months.

It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari while honoring athletes, who performed excellently well at international tournament last January, said conducive environment will be created for athletes to excel in Rio.

But as it stands, the promise made by Nigeria president is yet unfulfilled with few weeks to the global sporting event.

Aside the Dream Team VI who attended the Suwon International tournament, other combat and individual athletes have not been privilege to embark on any training tour except those based abroad. Sadly, most athletes attending is either self sponsored, relying on charity from family or loved once.

In conclusion, it is penitent and imperative for the country to break walls of government bureaucracy to ensure improved level of preparation for participating athletes.

The Federal government must do the needful to give adequate exposure to our athletes to ensure high competitiveness and mental fitness against foes from top European and Asian nations.

Despite continental success, Nigeria is yet to win a medal in wrestling event in Olympic history, though now possess the greatest opportunity to break the jinx, but still confronted with a rough preparatory route.

Hence, a proactive preparation approach will be needed to salvage matters against witnessing the repeat of 2012 London, where Team Nigeria returned with no medal.

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