Anyanacho sure of Olympics success as athletes differ over Binga
Thirteen years after Chika Chukwumerije won a bronze medal in the taekwondo event of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, 22-year-old Elizabeth Anyanacho, who is the first woman taekwondoist in 16 years to represent Nigeria, is aiming to repeat the feat at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Since the 2008 Olympics where Chukwumerije won his bronze medal, no Nigerian individual athlete has climbed the podium in two editions of the games. This is what Anyanacho wants to change.
Meanwhile, the scorecard of the Margaret Binga-led board of Nigeria Taekwondo Federation is generating mixed reactions from some stakeholders in the sport.
2019 African Games gold medalist, Chinazum Nwosu, believes the Binga board has witnessed several successes, especially in athletes ranking, grading, and organisation of tournaments.
“I want to tell you that so much has changed under the Binga-led board, especially when it comes to the ranking system, selection of athletes for major competitions, as well as Kukkiwon Grading system.
“Prior to the outgoing board, we had no ranking as athletes were selected randomly to represent the country. But now every athlete knows his or her rating, which is the basis of selection for major tournaments. The Kukkiwon grading system has really improved unlike in the past where things were not done properly,” Nwosu said.
She added: “The coaching system has also improved as more coaches are well updated on the latest rules in the sport. I must also commend the efforts of the Technical Director, Chika Chukwumerije, who has been working hard to make certain changes in the interest of the athletes.”
Disagreeing with Nwosu, 2019 African Games bronze medalist, Uzuamaka Otunadinma, says nothing seems to have changed in the sport. In fact, she blames the Binga-led board for her inability to compete at the Olympic qualifiers.
“I cannot imagine myself not going to the qualifiers and finally missing out on the Olympic Games in Tokyo. It is just frustrating that a lot of athletes have been discouraged with the way things are being run in the federation. For me, the last four years have not been good and it is painful that I cannot compete at the Olympic Games.”
In her view, three-time national champion, Vivian Ndu, the Binga-led board has handled the sport with transparency and accountability, which was lacking before the board came on board. “Now athletes know that if you work hard you can make the national team. I like their transparency when it comes to athletes’ selection to major tournaments. Things have really changed for the better as some of us outside Lagos and Abuja now have the chance to make the national team because everything is now based on merit,” Ndu said.
Ndu does not underestimate Chukwumerije’s contributions to the sport, saying, “As Technical Director, Chukwumerije has made the sport exciting with his unique style of carrying everybody along in whatever they are doing in the NTF. This has inspired me to work harder.”