Tokyo Olympics: Coach hopeful of more taekwondo athletes qualifying

National taekwondo coach John Victor says he is full of hopes that Team Nigeria will present three athletes at the Tokyo Olympics slated for 2021.

Victor told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja that two athletes on the team’s substitutes list might join Elizabeth Anyanacho.

Anyanacho has qualified to compete in the Olympics -73kg (welterweight category).

This was after defeating former African champion Urgence Mouega of Gabon 12-5 points in the -67kg women’s bout at the 2020 Africa Taekwondo Olympics Qualifiers in Rabat, Morocco.

“Benjamin Okuomose (heavyweight category) and Chinaza Nwosu (featherweight category) who were on the Olympics substitutes list can join if things work in their favour,” he said.

Victor said no stone would be left unturned to ensure they qualified.

“For now, taekwondo has qualified one athlete and two are on Olympics substitutes list.

“It means that if things work their way, they will go for the Olympics. But for now, the sure ticket is Elizabeth Anyanacho.

“Because of COVID-19, all we do now is video (virtual training) training and because of proximity, we meet occasionally with a few of them that are around.

“But those that are too far train on their own.

“However, Chika Chukwumerije, the Technical Director of Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF), is the one training Anyanacho one-on-one.

“Lucky for us, the Olympics has been moved to 2021 and government is beginning to relax restrictions on sporting activities.

“But the thing with preparing for international tournament is that you need other tournaments to practice what you know.

“These athletes have lost almost six months of no international event or even a local tournament and it reduces the ability to calculate their progress,” Victor said.

According to him, athletes need enough funds to prepare for international competitions especially the Olympics.

He explained that athletes from other countries have an edge over the country’s athletes because of improved training facilities.

“Athletes from other countries have been training and we don’t have what they have.

“Other countries have funds available for training, they have high performance centres where they can be kept especially this time of COVID-19 so that they will be shielded from the outside world.

“Other countries also have contingencies procedure that we don’t have and they are used to keeping their athletes together for months and years in preparation for a tournament.

“But in Nigeria we bring athletes together few months to tournaments.

“We brush athletes up for the events and God has been faithful to us in our preparations,” he added.

He urged the Federal Government to do everything possible to provide athletes and officials with the necessary tools to prepare for the Olympics to ensure good outing. (NAN)

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