Nigeria’s contingent to this year’s African Wrestling Championships in El Jadida, Morocco will depart the country on Thursday (19 May) for the tournament which runs from 17 – 22 May.
The delegation, which is made of up of 13 wrestlers (10 women and 3 men), two national team coaches – Purity Akuh and Victor Kodei, top-class referee Usman Yusuf and Assistant Secretary General of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) Catherine Orjiako, will leave the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos on Thursday night via a Turkish Airline flight and arrive the host nation in the early hours of Friday morning.
Olympic silver-medallist Blessing Oborududu (68kg), who is gunning for an 11th consecutive African title, headlines the list of Team Nigeria wrestlers at the tournament.
The Commonwealth champion, who entered the record books last year, becoming Nigeria’s first-ever wrestler to win a medal at the Olympics, is unbeaten on the continent since 2010.
She is joined in the Women Wrestling event by former World No. 1 and 5-time African champion Odunayo Adekuoroye, who steps up to 59kg.
African champions Hannah Reuben (76kg), Sunmisola Balogun (65kg) and Esther Kolawole (57kg), who claimed a historic bronze medal at last year’s U-23 World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, are joined by National champions Christiana Ogunsanya (50kg), Mercy Adekuoroye (53kg), Ebi Biogos (72kg), Jumoke Adekoye (55kg) and Patience Opuene (62kg).
In the freestyle events, Team Nigeria parades reigning African champion Ogbonna John (74kg), who will be hoping to land a 5th consecutive continental title, Commonwealth silver-medallist Ebikewenimo Welson (57kg) and Tokyo 2020 Olympian Ekerekeme Agiomor, a 2018 African champion.
With a very strong contingent to El Jadida, Team Nigeria are favourites to retain the Women Wrestling team title it has won in the last decade, although their Tunisian counterparts are expected to give them a run for their money.
The all-conquering Women team will get on the mat on Saturday, 21 May, with the men following suit on the final day of the competition – 22 May.
At the tournament, the ever-impressive Nigerian wrestlers will be guided by experienced coaches Akuh and Kodei – a 14-time African champion in his active days.