After keenly contested National trials conducted by the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF) which ended at the weekend in Abuja, 16 taekwondo Athletes out of expected 24 have been confirmed.
Those who automatically booked a place for possible feature at the games to be staged in Morocco this year were top-ranked athletes after series of taekwondo events in recent times.
Incidentally, they showed up at the trials, dusted their opponents and emerged champions inside the multi-purpose hall of MKO Abiola National stadium, Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. Eight others (outside top-ranked athletes) that will join them will be determined after a highly anticipated technical selection led by Technical Director and Olympian, Engr. Chika Chukwumerije and Chairman NTF techninal committee, Alhaji Sani Lawal, on Monday, July 1, 2019.
Then, all (including the initial 16 athletes) will be offered call-up, officially.
Already triumphed Athletes
In the -46kg, -49kg, -53kg and -57kg of the senior female category, Josephine Esuku of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Sekinat Adebayo (team Delta), Chinazum Nwosu (NSCDC) and Chidinma Okoko (NSCDC) stood tall and emerged champions respectively at the end of the trials.
It was the same way Vivian Ndu of NSCDC, Elizabeth Anyanacho (FCT), Uzoamaka Otuadinma from Delta and Chiamaka Onumonu (NSCDC) reined supreme in the -62kg, -67kg, -73kg and +73kg respectively.
In the senior male division, Abdulateef Arinola from Lagos, Abdulfathi Sanusi, Ifeoluwa Ajayi (both without a team) and Shola Olowookere of Delta state were winners in the -54kg, -58kg, -63kg and -68kg weights respectively.
In the -74kg, -80kg, -87kg and +87kg, Bright Kolade of Kebbi state, Peter Ituku (FCT), Sunday Onofe (NSCDC) and Benjamin Okuomose (Nigeria Army) ruled respectively.
At the end of the trials, NSCDC, a team that has maintained dominance in recent times again produced the highest number of athletes who came tops with a total seven medals comprising of six gold and one bronze.
They were followed by team FCT and Delta that were adjudged second and third respectively.
While FCT got 5 medals (2 gold, 2 silver and one bronze), Delta nicked four medals (two gold and silver).
Esuku who spoke shortly after she was guaranteed of a place at the African games camp said she was ready to grab her chances and represent Nigeria well in Morocco.
According to her, “I have worked hard for this moment. It’s still work in progress. I will continue to put more effort so as to do my country proud in international competition.
For Ituku whose has remained steadily progressive in his taekwondo career after he earned his breakthrough as a junior athlete in 2017, “It’s a dream come true for me to make it to the camp. By the grace of God, if I’m finally chosen to represent Nigeria, I will give it my best shot.”
At the closing ceremony, NTF President Elizabeth Margret Binga asked the would-be selected athletes to redouble their effort while in camp adding, “That you find yourself in camp doesn’t mean you have finally made it to African Games. You need to put in more effort.”