By; AYO OJEDOKUN, Lagos
Team Nigeria is on the verge of missing out of the 2019 African Senior Wrestling Championships slated for Hammamet, Tunisia from 26th to 31st March due to lack of funds.
With registration of athletes expected to close on yesterday, 5th March, the Nigeria Wrestling Federation are yet to purchase the licences of her wrestlers and secure accommodation fees ahead of the continental championships for Cadets, Juniors and Seniors.
As host of the competition last year, Nigeria emerged overall champions of the tournament in Port Harcourt; claiming victory in both the Freestyle (men) and Women’s Wrestling.
Such was the dominance of Nigeria in Women Wrestling at the tournament in Port Harcourt that her athletes won 9 of the available 10 gold medals, in addition to a silver medal.
Nigeria also parade no fewer than 25 reigning African Champions in the different weight classes at the moment. Amongst them are Blessing Oborududu, Aminat Adeniyi, Odunayo Adekuoroye, Hannah Reuben, Mercy Genesis, Emmanuel Nworie, Bose Samuel, Ifeoma Nwoye, Sunmisola Balogun, Amas Daniel, Emmanuel Ogbonnya John and Ekerekemo Agiomor.
Failure to compete at the continental showpiece in Hammamet means Nigeria will also miss out of the 2019 World Championships in Kazakhstan in September since the African Championships is a qualifier for the global event.
The ripple effect is that Nigeria’s chances of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan will be reduced as the World Championships is the first qualification tournament for the multi-sport fiesta.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Youth and Sports have been working round the clock in a bid to raise funds and remedy the precarious situation.
If Nigeria fails to make it to Tunisia for the African Championships later this month, it will be the first time-ever that the country will be missing out of the continental event it has dominated over the years.