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Don’t pile pressure on Adekuoroye, Igali pleads

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[FILES] Odunayo Adekuoroye. Photo: KONBINI

Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation, Daniel Igali, has appealed to Nigerians to allow Olympics medal hopeful, Odunayo Adekuoroye, to focus on her training ahead of the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Games, which begins on July 23 in Japan.

Reacting to Adekuoroye’s response to reports yesterday, where she claimed she was not under any pressure to excel in Japan, Igali told The Guardian the media should give the wrestler breathing space to concentrate on winning medal in Japan.

“Either you like it or not, Adekuoroye is under a lot of pressure because the nation expects her to win a medal at the Olympics. Just because she said she is not under any pressure does not mean she is not. Do you know what it means when the whole country thinks you are going to win a medal and how many people call her everyday?

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“In my case, I didn’t speak to reporters when I was going for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia Olympics, where I won gold medal. I was cut off completely from everybody, but my anger wouldn’t allow me. There were some people I wanted to talk to, but they said no, advising me that some of the questions from the reporters could destabilise me.

“Athletes telling you that they are not under any pressure are only being diplomatic. Some of them even after granting an interview don’t sleep throughout the night. I know what I am talking about because I have been through it. For 68 days, I was waking up between 1.00 or 2.00 a.m. I couldn’t sleep till daybreak.

“The expectation from me to win a gold medal at the Olympics was very high then. This is because I was the first world champion in the country and everybody expected me to win again. As much as you want to win something, you become so excited that you start thinking what if I didn’t win? What will people think of me? And all of these things will be running through your head.

“At times what your outward appearance is saying may be completely different from what is happening inside of you. And the athletes too might also be dying from the high expectation from the country. Some athletes will come and tell you they are not under any pressure and some people will believe them,” he stated.

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