The Minister of Youth and Sports in Nigeria, Solomon Dalung has predicted a successful outing for Nigerian wrestlers at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Dalung made the remark when the Ministry of Youth and Sports held a reception on Tuesday April 30, 2019 in Abuja for Nigerian wrestlers who emerged African Champions at the recently held Africa Championships held from 26 – 31 March, 2019 in Hammamet Tunisia and Nigerian Rowers who also won laurels at the Open International Canoe Sprint Championship held from March 21 – 26 , 2019 in Bhopal, India.
On the occasion which took place at the Ministry, Dalung noted that Wrestling has become one of Nigeria’s strongest sports at continental and global levels while inspiration for greatness is also germinating in the little known Nigeria Rowing, Canoe and Rowing Federation.
“Nigerian wrestlers have distinguished themselves as a force to reckon with, thus giving the sport an enviable place of pride and elevating the country’s image as a top wrestling nation.
“The Nigerian wrestling team placed first in Africa on the overall medals table during the 2015 Africa Games held in Congo Brazzaville. Similarly, the Federation dominated other African countries, particularly in women’s wrestling, where they emerged African Champions at the 2018 Africa Championships which Nigeria hosted for the first time.
“When our female wrestlers participated in the two-ranking series events in Germany and Bulgaria in February and March 2019, their performances created an avenue for our star athlete, Adekuoroye Odunayo to be ranked fourth in the world and first in Africa.
“This success, apart from writing a chapter in the annals of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation history, is an indicator of the possibility of an Olympic medal in Tokyo.”
The Minister also commended the President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation Daniel Igali and the President of Rowing, Canoeing and Sailing, Rear Admiral Festus Pobeni (rtd) for providing visionary and motivational leadership to their Federations and congratulated the athletes for their sacrifice and resilience.
Dalung also noted that the Rowing, Canoeing and Sailing Federation is relatively new in the country but has emerged as one of the fastest developing sports in Nigeria.
“Under the current leadership, the Federation has recorded impressive performances in their international competitions. For instance, the Federation qualified two home based athletes for the
2018 Youth Olympics Games in Argentina where Nigeria was ranked number 7 and 8 in the world ranking.
“At the Africa Youth Games (AYG) 2018 in Algeria, Nigeria, with four gold, three silver and two bronze medals topped the table in canoeing and kayak.
“Nigeria, with three gold and a silver meda, emerged overall winners at the West Africa Rowing Regatta. All these could not have been possible without a focused board at the helms of affairs of the Federation.
“I therefore commend the board members of the two federations and the athletes for their outstanding performances and urge you to remain focused and determined in your campaign for qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Games.”
Dalung also promised the ministry’s support to the athletes by creating the right environment for success .
The athletes were later presented to the minister for decoration and a handshake while they also presented the trophy won by the wrestlers at the African Championship in Hammamet.