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Olympics qualifiers: Nigeria taekwondo team departs for Morocco Wednesday

02 February 2016, 19:18

Abuja - The Nigerian contingent to Morocco, venue of the taekwondo qualifiers for the 2016 Olympic Games, will leave Lagos on Wednesday for the competition.

The Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF) had earlier fixed Monday for the team’s departure, ahead of the championship holding between Thursday and Sunday in Morocco.

George Ashiru, President of NTF, told NAN on Tuesday in Abuja that every arrangement for the team’s departure on Wednesday had been finalised.

Ashiru said the departure date was changed because there was no need to arrive in Morocco before Wednesday since Nigerian athletes would fight on Saturday and Sunday.

“The athletes will be in Lagos on Tuesday, from where they will depart for Morocco. The flight has been confirmed and it’s a five-hour journey.

“The hotel accommodation has been booked, and everything is in order.

“Our initial date of Monday was moved to Wednesday because our athletes’ fights will actually be on Saturday and Sunday, and there will still be more time for us to acclimatise.

“Moreover, the logistics were not right and since the logistics were not right, we didn’t want to go so early and, maybe, begin to have issues,’’ he said.

Also read: Olympics qualifiers: Taekwondo team to depart for Morocco Feb. 1

The NTF president said the federation was fully prepared for the championship, and was full of hopes.

“We are currently doing analysis on the countries that will be participating in the qualifiers and, from what we have gathered, our team has great opportunity to qualify,’’ he said.

Ashiru said the country’s team had every opportunity to qualify for all four categories of the competition.

“The team’s confidence level will further be boosted by the time the organisers release the tournament chart.

“But our predictions are based on statistics and not what I believe.

“I believe we will qualify but I cannot predict that we will qualify in all four categories, because that will amount to 100 per cent qualification, which is not likely to be feasible.

“However, I believe we have one or two categories where we have natural strength.

“Two of our athletes, Jamilu Mohammed and Uzoamaka Otuadimma, have tremendous experience.

“Don’t forget that Mohammed won a gold medal at the 2011 African Games in Mozambique and reached the quarter-finals at the 2015 Alexandria Open. He also won silver at the 2015 African Games.

“Otuadimma got a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, got a gold medal at the African Games in Congo and she has a lot of advantages in her weight category.

“Her ranking may even earn her a bye in the first round and what that means is that she will have only one or two fights to qualify,’’ he added.

However, Ashiru also rated the other athletes ---- Chinazom Nwosu and Edwin Samson ---- high, considering their different experience and performance at international and local competitions.

NAN reports that Nwosu and Otuadimma will be fighting in the female -57kg and female +67kg categories respectively.

On the other hand, Mohammed and Samson will fight in the male -58kg and male -68kg categories respectively.


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