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Igali begs government to sponsor athletes to competitions

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President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation, Daniel Igali, has begged the Federal Government and corporate bodies to sponsor Nigerian athletes to major international competitions, saying competing against their peers is the only way they would be ready for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

He said the country should make funds available to athletes to compete and prepare for the games, adding that camping the athletes six months before the games would not be useful to the country if the athletes didn’t have the avenue to test their readiness for the games.

Igali told The Guardian that it is not right to assume that real preparations for International competitions start with camping the athletes for six months and expecting them to do well when they were not allowed to exploit their strength against opponents on the technics and other strategies they were taught in camp.

“Personally, I really differ from the views of a lot of people on the best way to prepare for any international competition. Many people believe that Olympics preparation is the camp so that if we bring people into camp for six months that is a good preparation.

“That is not it at all because preparation is about competitions. From the moment we finish this Olympics, it is the number of competitions athletes go for that count.

“Like this year, Odunayo Adekuoroye has only gone to three International tournaments, then with the 2019 Senior World Wrestling Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan making it the fourth. All these competitions are the preparations for the Olympics.

“So, if anybody says we are not preparing then I don’t think we are getting it right. We are always thinking of staying in the camp for six months. Nobody should stay in camp for six months, to me that is slavery,” he said.

The former World and Olympics champion added that there should be opportunities for athletes to test things learned so that mistakes made would not be repeated when the real competition for medals come.

“We don’t need more than three weeks in camp if we are doing the right thing. If you are in camp for two weeks, you go out, compete, come back, they correct your technics, you go out again and compete.

“We must as a matter of principle and procedure ensure we have enough funds for athletes, especially the elite athletes and the developing athletes and even the cadet’s athletes to compete regularly.

“A cadet athlete, for instance, should be competing for at least four times a year internationally. Then in local competitions that will make it at least eight times a year. If we are doing that, we will not need to talk of anything about camping again,” he stated.


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