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High expectations in Team Nigeria’s camp as Oborodudu goes for wrestling gold

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Blessing Oborududu of Nigeria celebrates after winning PHOTO: Reuters / Leah Millis<br />

Aminat Adeniyi begins her quest for glory in 62kg class

Nigeria’s long wait for an Olympics medal came to an end yesterday on the mats of Makuhari Messe Hall, Tokyo, where wrestler, Blessing Oborodudu, ensured that the country would end the games with at least a silver medal.

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Since the London 2012 Olympics, Nigeria has not won any medal outside the bronze the football team got from the Rio 2016 edition of the games. In fact, Nigeria had never reached the final of any wrestling category in its Olympics history. But the story has changed.

Yesterday, Oborodudu, the Commonwealth Games champion defeated London 2012 bronze medallist, Battsetseg Soronzonbold of Mongolia, 7-2, in the second semifinal of the women 68kg freestyle to qualify for today’s final, where she will face the top seed, Tamyra Stock Mensah of the United States in the gold medal fight.

The American, who is the reigning world champion, beat Ukraine’s Alla Cherkasova 10-4 in the first semifinal.

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Earlier yesterday, Oborodudu beat Azerbaijan’s Elis Manolova 13-2 in the round of 16 and went on to narrowly defeat (3-2) Meerim Zhumanazarova of Kyrgyzstan in the quarterfinals.

The semifinal clash with Soronzonbold was easier for Oborodudu than many expected. She took down the Mongolian thrice to win the first round 7-0.

Even when Soronzonbold tried to fight back, winning two straight points, Oborodudu ensured the Mongoilian did not stop her march to the podium with a masterclass defensive strategy that ensured the bout ended 7-2.

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Seeded number two, Oborodudu will fight for the gold medal with Mensah from 11.15 a.m. Nigerian time today. When they met at the World Championships in Kazakhstan in 2019, the American beat Oborodudu on her way to the title.

Also today at the same venue, another Nigerian, Adeniyi Aminat, will begin her quest for wrestling glory in the 62kg class. She is pitted against Irina Koliadenko of Ukraine in the quarterfinals stage of the competition. It will start by 4.00 a.m. Nigerian time.

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