By Solomon Nwoke
The Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) has started its final preparations for the Port Harcourt 2018 African Wrestling Championships with the trials and selection of the country’s flag bearers.
Wrestlers camped in three cities, Akure, Yenagoa and Port Harcourt will converge at the Alfred Diete-Spiff Civic Centre Indoor Sports Hall, Port Harcourt to slug it out for a place in the Team Nigeria Wrestling contingent in the continental meet.
The Greco-Roman wrestlers will take to the mat today in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state where they have been camped for the trials while tomorrow and Sunday in the Rivers state capital, the Cadet and Junior wrestlers will sweat it out on the mats in the freestyle men and women and Greco-Roman.
The wrestlers that will don the national colours in the Senior freestyle men and women are already known from the Governor Nyesom Wike Wrestling championship held in last November in Port Harcourt. Immediately after the trials the wrestlers will go into final ( closed) camping stage with their training partners
Nigeria will present an unprecedented full squad in all the categories ( nine teams) for a total of 90 wrestlers for the African tourney.
With the level of preparations so far, President of the NWF, Dr Daniel Igali said he is confident the team will be ready to do the country proud next month.
“From the reports I’ve received from the coaches and the Technical Director, it appears the camps have been going on well,” the Bayelsa State Lawmaker said.
“I’m in Yenagoa, so, I sometimes make out time to see the female athletes, and I think their training is going on pretty well in Yenagoa.
“I’m sure from all the reports and personal experiences, we are good to go.”
At the last African Championships in Marakech, Morocco in 2017, Nigeria emerged the best female side, winning nine of the available 10 gold medals. And Igali is looking forward to such dominance from the female team again.
“I hope they (female team) do; that’s my prayer for them and that’s why our preparation is key.
“I don’t believe on luck. So I’m hoping that with the amount of preparations, we’ve been having here, they will be able to replicate their performances in Marakech.”
In order to achieve huge success at the African Championships in Port Harcourt, the NWF boss said Team Nigeria will maintain the level of their preparation, while demanding a 100% effort from the wrestlers.
“I think we need to continue with what we are doing,” he said.