By Tony Ubani, Tokyo
As the ongoing Tokyo Olympics gets to the halfway mark with no medals yet for Team Nigeria, expectations from Wrestling has suddenly hit the rooftop with all eyes on dancing wrestler, Odunayo Adekuruoye.
The wrestling events here would rumble on August 2 but Adekuruoye would begin her mat invasion on August 4.
The Daniel who has been the pillar behind the success story of Wrestling in Nigeria and a Gold medallist for Canada, Igali, has said that “Tokyo Olympics appears to be our best chance to be on the podium”.
Looking ahead, Igali who is the Chairman Caretaker Committee of Nigeria Wrestling Federation believed that they have done enough to put the Wrestlers in the mix for a medal(s).
“I still believe at the halfway stage of the Olympics, that Nigeria has chances of medals. I know that even with the best conditions and best preparations, winning medals at the Olympics is not guaranteed, but in all three Olympics I have been involved, two as a national coach, this appears to be our best chance to be on the podium- no pressure.
We cannot talk about optimum preparations, but as far as preparations go, I believe we have done enough to put our wrestlers in the mix for medal(s).
We will do our best. Am glad that the whole country is getting to know a bit about the work we have been doing. I got Adekuoroye in the national team camp in 2009 and have been grooming her alongside her coach (Purity Akuh) now, 12 years after.
Same with Blessing Oborududu who is ranked No 2 in the world also. I discovered Blessing Oborududu from an Inter-House wrestling competition at her high school and had her on the national camp from 2007.
I only wish the private sector will be more motivated and involved in our Olympic preparations and multi-sport games and the preparation of our athletes. See how everyone in Nigeria is anxious to see us do well. Why can’t we individually and collectively donate to support these athletes all through the 4 years?
Honestly, as I have stated elsewhere, sports is not cheap. If we want to reap medals that befit the status of Nigeria, we must ensure that all Olympic sports federations in Nigeria are given the needed funds quarterly to prepare their teams. We must also ensure that we have the needed manpower to support the federations in administration and on the technical level. There are no shortcuts. Money and planning is what matters at this level”, Igali said as a matter of fact.
Adekuruoye is ranked the number one freestyle wrestler in the 57 kg.
With her performance at the 2021 Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw, where she overpowered some of the finest wrestlers in the world, the sky looks bright for her to write her name in Gold for Team Nigeria.