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Sports Festival to aid Nigerian wrestlers for Olympic qualifiers

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The Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) have announced plans to get the country’s wrestlers ready for the Africa/Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament from April 2 to 4, and the preceding 2021 African Championships from April 6 to 11, both in El Jadida, Morocco.

Team Nigeria wrestlers returned to action for the first time in almost a year at the recently-concluded Baraza Champion of Champions tournament in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, which was held from January 15 to 18.

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President of the body, Hon. Daniel Igali disclosed that the wrestlers would commence preparations for the doubleheader in Morocco with the forthcoming National Sports Festival in Benin City, Edo State from February 14 to 28, before going into an intensive close-camping in Yenagoa, a week after the Festival.

The World and Olympic champion added that the plan was to have each wrestler compete in about 15 bouts prior to the qualifiers in Morocco.

“The National Sports Festival, which comes up from February 14 to 28 will also be another avenue to test themselves, and to get ready for the competitions (African Champions and Olympic qualifiers),” he said.

Igali, who is also the Commissioner for Youth and Sports in Bayelsa State, added: “Those are all preparatory grounds.

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“However, after the National Sports Festival, we are going to give the athletes about a one week break so they can go home, catch up with friends and family, and then, we will invite them back to camp (in Yenagoa), essentially to prepare for these all-important African Championships and Olympic qualifiers.

“During the camp, we expect to bring in about three different training partners per person. We want to have every athlete going to the Olympic qualifiers and African Championships to also, within the camp, have about 10 matches. Our goal is to get everyone to have about 15 matches before the going to the Olympic qualifiers and African Championships in Morocco.

“So, that’s what we plan, and we think that if we are able to get everybody competing about 15 times before then, we should be fine. Our target will be met.”

World No. 2 in 57kg Women Wrestling Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg) is the only Nigerian to have qualified for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games which runs from 23rd July to 8th August this year. However, the NWF is hopeful, at least, seven more wrestlers would join her to Tokyo for the Games.

At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Nigeria paraded seven wrestlers.

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