By G9ija

The Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) have announced plans to prepare the country’s wrestlers for the Africa/Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament from 2nd to 4th April and the preceding 2021 African Championships from 6th – 11th April, 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.

Nigeria Wrestling Federation President, Hon. Daniel Igali said that the wrestlers will commence preparations for the event in Morocco with the forthcoming National Sports Festival in Benin Edo State from 14th to 28th February, before entering an intensive close-camping in Yenagoa a week after the Festival.

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

“The National Sports Festival which comes up from the 14th to 28th of February will also be another avenue to test themselves and to get ready for the competitions (African Championship and Olympic qualifiers),” Igali, who is also the Commissioner for Youth and Sports in Bayelsa State, said. “Those are all preparatory grounds.

“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.

Seven wrestlers represented Nigeria at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro but at the moment, Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg) is the only Nigerian to have qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Games which is expected to hold from 23rd July to 8th August this year.

The NWF is hopeful that, at least, seven more wrestlers would join Adekuoroye to compete in Tokyo.

“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 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,” he added.