Nigerian pair take centre stage as Ist AFTU Intl Taekwondo opens in Egypt

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The duo of 2014 Commonwealth Taekwondo Gold medallists, Abubakar Isah Adamu, and veteran fighter, Jamilu Mohammed are set to compete in the -58kg category, at the 1st AFTU International Opens, billed to hold at the Alexandria Olympic Centre, in Alexandria Egypt on 21st and 22nd February, 2015.
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Adamu, who just turned 18 years old on 15th February, will be coached by 3-time Olympian, Chika Chukwumerije, who successfully guided the rising star alongside Shola Olowookere to Gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland. Jamilu Mohammed, who is also the current African Champion, will be coached by IOC-certified coach, Ibrahim Yahuza of Kano state.

Young Adamu will be eager to continue from where he stopped in year 2014, where he won Gold medals at the Commonwealth Taekwondo Championships, Lagos Opens and Korean Ambassador’s Team Cup, in addition to representing Nigeria at the World Junior Championships and Youth Olympic Qualifiers.

However, the AFTU Opens will present a unique set of challenge to one of Nigeria’s bright taekwondo talents, as this is the first time Adamu will be competing in the adult category at the international level. Nonetheless, he remains optimistic about his chances.

“I felt really light during training yesterday and my body is relaxed. I have been studying competition videos of my opponents and I look forward to what I expect to be an exciting experience in Alexandria, Egypt”

His mentor, and Beijing 2008 Bronze medallist, Chika Chukwumerije struck a more cautionary tone.

“Adamu is hugely talented, very ambitious and he works very hard at training sessions. He is still young and this is the first time he is competing in the senior category, and first time he will be competing this year. He is competing against opponents that compete regularly. I would use all my experience to guide him through the competition, match by match, as it is important to try to remove as much pressure on him as possible. For now, the main focus is on the exposure and experience he gains, not the medal he wins”

The veteran player-coach went to urge huge brands to sign deals with Taekwondo’s rising stars while they were on the ascent.

“The two taekwondo revelations of the Commonwealth Games – Abubakar Adamu and Shola Olowookere – are no doubt going to win very important medals for Nigeria in the future. But it is hugely dependent on the investment that goes into them in the next few years. They are the face of Nigeria Taekwondo’s future and I really encourage big brands to seize the opportunity to sign 3 – 4 year endorsement deals with them”

On the possibility that the Commonwealth Gold Medallists would meet each other during the course of the competition, the 3-time Olympian was indifferent.

“What does it matter? Jamilu is my team mate, so is Adamu and they are both Nigerians; one represents the experienced present of Nigeria Taekwondo while the other represents the talented exciting future of Nigeria Taekwondo. It is a win-win situation. Hopefully, they will get good draws and have a best case scenario where they meet in the finals”

Weigh-in and draws for the competition will be done on Friday, 20th February 2015, while Adamu and the more experienced Jamilu will take to the competition mat on Sunday, 22nd February 2015.

Their participation at the AFTU Opens is privately funded.

Among the 258 competitors registered for the World Taekwondo Federation ranked G1 tournament are National Teams and Clubs from 37 countries including Spain, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, Peru, Congo, Greece, Egypt, France, United States, Jordan, Cyprus, Morocco, Tunisia, Germany, Spain, Russia, Switzerland, Great Britain, Ukraine, Sweden, Brazil, Australia, Cote d’Ivoire. Algeria, Netherlands, Mali, Yemen, Belgium, Libya, Kazakhstan, Portugal, Algeria, Canada, Italy, New Zealand and Niger Republic.

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