Three-time Olympian, Chika Chukwumerije, has expressed his optimism that the National taekwondo team will arrive in Rabat Morocco on time to compete at the African Qualification tournament for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic to be held between 21 and 23 February 2020.
Nigeria will be represented at the Olympic qualifiers by the quartet of African Champion, 25-year-old Chinazum Nwosu, African Bronze medalists 24-year-old Benjamin Okuomose and 20-year-old Elizabeth Anyanacho and Nigeria Open gold medalist 21-year-old Ifeoluwa Ajayi.
Earlier reports have indicated that the team was yet to secure funds to make the important qualification event, which is the only chance left for Nigeria to secure Olympic tickets for the Taekwondo event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Chukwumerije, who is currently the technical director, allayed the fears of the team missing out on the Olympic qualifications while noting how important it is for Nigeria to be at the qualification event.
“This qualification tournament is very important and the Ministry knows this and has affirmed their support. They are on top of issues and I am hopeful that the team will depart and arrive in time for the Olympic qualification tournament. The leadership have been very gracious and supportive of our preparations so I am sure it will be sorted [as soon as possible].”
Chukwumerije, who won a bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, drew on historical facts to explain why Taekwondo should be fully supported.
“Taekwondo is one of only five sports to win Olympic medals for Nigeria, the others being football, athletics, boxing and weightlifting. We have the history and experience to do it again and can only do so if Nigeria gives itself that opportunity by attending the necessary qualification events in our full strength.”
The former African Champion and Commonwealth medalist backed the team to do well in Rabat after all the sacrifices made over the past four years.
“Honestly, they have made a lot of personal sacrifices in order to achieve their Olympic dream. To reach this point where you have a shot at representing your country at the Olympic is a life-long dream, especially in taekwondo where the Olympic is the biggest stage. They have worked very hard and made so many sacrifices so they know what they must do in Morocco.”
Schedule on the World Taekwondo website shows that Nigeria’s Elizabeth Anyanacho and Benjamin Okuomose are expected to compete on the 22nd of February in the female -67kg and male +80g, while current African Champion Chinazum Nwosu and Ifeoluwa Ajayi will fight for an Olympic ticket on 23rd February 2020 in the female -57kg and male -68kg categories respectively.