The nine-man contingent of Team Nigeria at the weekend arrived Taipei City in Chinese Taipei in readiness for the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF)-organised 2014 Youth Olympics Qualifiers, which kicks on Thursday March 20.
With support from the National Sports Commission (NSC) and under the guidance of the new national coach, Jin Beom Kim, the duo of Esther Godwin (-63kg) and Ogeh Ogochukwu (49kg) will weigh-in on Wednesday March 19, while the draw will also hold same day. They are expected to fight on Thursday march 20.
Iniobong Ekong, Husseini Isah and Bashir Muhammad will weigh in on Thursday March 20 while they are to fight on Friday March 21.
For Ekong, her confident has improved having undergone training prior to the tournament.
“This is the first time I will be competing for Nigeria, and I feel great about it. I feel like I can win a medal. I have finished my secondary school, but I have not taken JAMB to enroll in the university because of funds. I hope this trip can open an opportunity so I can be given a scholarship. In Taipei, I expect to see other young people like me, but they have arms and legs like us. The little camp has been good, because I have learnt many things and my stamina has increased,” the National Youth Games gold medalist said.
According to board member of Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF), Chika Chukwumerije, the team has equal chance to make it to the Olympics.
“Two or three of them stand a slight chance, but I do not expect them to win medals on their very first international competition with no prior international experience and extended training. They are all eager to do well and win medals; their drive and passion is worth all the investment,” the Beijing Olympics medalist said.
He added: “For me, participation will change their lives; they will see new places, meet young people from all over the world, form healthy relationships, and learn new competitive tactics and strategies. The inspiration from this trip would ensure and guarantee future success. Most importantly, it would increase Nigeria taekwondo chances for next year’s All Africa Games and 2016 Rio Olympics. They are the future of Nigeria taekwondo.”
“A good investment now would surely increase the size of medal dividends in the next decade. I hope they get scholarships, endorsements, training aids/equipment and every other pampering that is important for the development of a young athlete, so they can grow into mature confident adult competitors and leaders,” he explained.