By Solomon Nwoke
Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth gold medallist in the 51kg female wrestling, Odunayo Adekuoroye returned yesterday to a heroic welcome after her exploits at the maiden edition of the Pro Wrestling league which ended last December in New Delhi, India.
The two time African champion Adekuoroye, who was the only African in Team Mumbai Garuda could not hide her happiness. She said the championship has put her in a better shape to challenge all those who would have otherwise overwhelmed her at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games proper. She expressed confidence of winning the gold medal.
Speaking to a handful of reporters at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos yesterday, she said, “ The experience was splendid because most of the world wrestlers I felt I was afraid of are the ones afraid of me now and thank God. I had bouts with them and defeated them all. Now I have full confidence any time any day I meet them that I will conquer them.
“I won gold and emerged the best wrestler of the pro- wrestling League championship.
“ It was a nice programme, the first in the history of wrestling and it’s a privilege being there and I use this medium to thank my president, honourable Daniel Igali , my coach Purity, my father in The Lord Dr Daniel Olukoya. They have been so very very great. Now as for the Olympic Games Proper, I am very ready if Nigeria can send me to go and represent her, I am very ready and I believe God is on my side.
“ I signed a two year contract with an Indian Pro-wrestling club with the clause that I must come and represent my fatherland at anytime I am called upon to do so, especially this Olympic Games is more important to me than the club. That if they cannot allow me to come I will quit the club instantly and they agreed that after the Olympics that I should come back”
Adekuoroye, so far the only Nigerian wrestler to secure a slot for the 2016 Rio Olympics after winning bronze at the 2015 World Wrestling Championship in Las Vegas, USA. She also won bronze at the World Grand Prix held in Baku, Azerbaijan said her preparation now for the Games depends on the programme the President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) Dr Igali has for them
“My Olympics preparation as par the venue of preparation depends on the programme of the Nigeria wrestling Federation and NSC. At the moment I don’t know my federation president, honourable Daniel Igali knows better because he is the one to determine that”, she said.
Asked now that her name rings bell to the world wrestling family how she is going to manage her success and maintain the level she has attained at the Games proper, she says, “ I just have to keep improving on the things I have known now.
I wouldn’ t want to promise Nigerians anything now. I am going to the Rio 2016 Games to do my best. Any medal God gives me I will take. I am not sacred at all. All that I have in mind to do at the Games is to make Nigerians proud.
She however lamented over Nigerian wrestlers who didn’t have the opportunity she had as that would have given them equal leverage she now has saying, “There are other good Nigerian wrestlers back home here. But the problem is dearth of competitions to keep the wrestlers in shape. If I did’t go for that World Championship I wouldn’t know what I have .
I believe if other wrestlers had the opportunity as I had they too would have done well and qualify for the Olympics too, but then there is another opportunity for them to qualify.”