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Weightlifting boss eyes gold medals at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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In the build up to the 2019 African Games in Morocco, the President of Nigeria Weightlifting Federation, Mohammed Yahaya, set a target of 15 gold medals for his athletes and coaches. But the weightlifting federation delivered a bag full of medals, capturing 16 gold,13 silver and 18 bronze medals at the end of the Games, the highest number by any federation.

Now, Yahaya says Nigerian weightlifters have grown and have the capacity to withstand the pressure at the Olympics level. He feels the lifters can break evil at Tokyo 2020 Olympics by winning some gold medals for the country.

Nigeria’s only Olympics medal in weightlifting, a silver by Mariam Usman, came at Beijing 2008. Yahaya told The Guardian yesterday that Nigerian weightlifters would take the world by surprise in Tokyo saying: “I have the feeling that our first Olympics gold medal will come at Tokyo 2020 because we have some of the best lifters in the World at the moment. All we need do is to give them the best of training and competitions ahead the Olympics.”

Yahaya revealed that Nigerian weightlifters would attend two championships in Tunisia in November and Qatar in December as part of the qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 Olympics. “We will have at least five months of camping for our lifters ahead the Olympics, and our target is to win as many gold medals as possible in Tokyo.”

Nigeria paraded some of the youngest weightlifters at Morocco 2019 African Games, including Emmanuel Appah, who got three gold medals in the men’s 61kg category -Snatch (120kg), Clean-Jerk (151kg) and total 271kg. Appah, who won three gold medals at the 2014 African Youth Games in Gaborone, Botswana and silver at the 5th Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) held at Apia, Samoa in 2015, has demonstrated the quality of a star to look out for at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Joy Eze Ogbonne also grabbed three gold medals in the women’s 64kg – clean and jerk (121kg), Snatch (97kg) and a total of 218kg, just as Folashade Lawal claimed three gold medals in women’s 59kg category (210kg), Clean-Jerk (117kg) and Snatch (93kg). Fatima Musa also won three gold medals in Women’s 81kg (219kg), Clean-Jerk (122kg) and Snatch (97kg), while Adijat Olarinoye won two gold in Women’s 55kg (209kg) Clean-Jerk (116kg) and silver in Snatch (93kg).

Egypt, which dominated the weightlifting event at Morocco 2019 African Games, winning 56 medals (31 gold, 20 silver and five bronze, was recently banned from participating in the World Weightlifting Championships for doping offences.There are fears in some quarters that the suspension could extend to Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games. Yahaya says in the absence of Egypt, Nigerian weightlifters should be able to rise to the occasion at Tokyo 2020 Olympics.


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