President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation Daniel Igali has lamented the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the sport in the country.
Nigerian wrestlers, like their counterparts elsewhere, have been training individually away from the mats without sparring since March, following a nationwide suspension of sporting activities.
In a television interview with Africa Independent Television (AIT), the World and Olympic champion explained how the pandemic has affected the programmes of Team Nigeria, who were on the verge of travelling to Morocco for the Africa/Oceania Olympic Qualifiers before its postponement due to the pandemic.
“With respect to the team, it (Covid-19) put quite a spanner in our works,” he said. “We had a team that was very ready to go to the Africa/Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament in El Jadida, Morocco, and that was in March, before just four days to the event we had a letter from the international federation telling us that the competition had been postponed indefinitely.
“Now, only Odunayo Adekuoroye had qualified for the Olympics and we had every determination, in fact, almost assurances, that we would be able to qualify between five and seven other athletes to join Adekuoroye. But somehow, because of no fault of our own, we were not able to go to that tournament.
“And since then, there has been a virtual lockdown in all states. The athletes, understandably, are quite down on themselves.”
In the face of the lockdown and restriction on sporting activities in the country, Igali said the wrestlers have also been keeping fit in their own way.
“We’ve ensured that everybody stays active on their own. Of course, there’s no physical contact, there’s no mat work. But they’ve been encouraged to work on their own, do push-ups, do sit-ups, go for runs and do individual exercises.
“And I’m sure that’s what they’ve been doing because we’ve been monitoring them. But you can tell there was a lot of disappointment that we were not able to go to the Olympic qualifying tournament.”