By: AYO OJEDOKUN, Lagos
Preparations have been intensify as twenty cadet wrestlers as well as their sparring partners have stepped up their preparations for the 2018 African Youth Games (AYG) which runs from 19-28 July.
The wrestlers who are between the ages of 15 and 17 will represent Nigeria at the 3rd edition of the AYG in Algiers, Algeria. The athletes are made up of 10 males and 10 females who will only participate in the freestyle events, staying away from Greco Roman.
President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) Hon. Daniel Igali highlighted the importance of the competition to the youngsters who excelled at the 2018 African Wrestling Championships in Port Harcourt earlier this year.
“It will be a good experience for them,” the vice president of the Commonwealth Wrestling Committee noted. “We’ve been harping on the importance of exposing young athletes, especially those with talents; who are going to take over from the current national team members at the senior level.“So, I am really excited and happy for them.”
The World and Olympic champion added that he is not expecting so much from the athletes as the competition is basically about exposure and experience.
“At this level, I really don’t expect much from them. I want them to get that added exposure at the international level – to have the opportunity to travel to other countries, make friends and get the feel of what international competition looks like.
For most of them, their first opportunity to wrestle against anybody other than a Nigerian was at the African Championships in Port Harcourt. So this would be their second experience at international level.
“I’m really happy for them because when we grew up, we never had these opportunities.”
The quadrennial multi-sport event is among other things, aimed at contributing to the development of African sport and to the growth of Olympic values.