President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation, Chief Daniel Igali, has described the just concluded national wrestling trials for the All Africa games and the Olympic qualifiers tournament in Accra, Ghana, and Alexandria, Egypt, as well-contested. Nigerian wrestlers are expected to be in Accra, Ghana, for the All Africa games from March 8th to 23rd, 2024, as well as the Olympics qualifier tournament in Alexandria, Egypt, next month.
Chief Igali, who doubles as the commissioner for youth and sports development in Bayelsa State, gave the commendation at the end of the two-day national wrestling trials in Yenagoa, in the Bayelsa State capital. The commissioner noted that he was pleased with the nation's wrestlers, particularly the young wrestlers who distinguished themselves in the trials, pointing out that his joy was that every weight class was well contested for in the two-day event.
According to him, with adequate preparation, the wrestlers are going to come out in flying colours in the All Africa games, maintaining that for the athletes to conquer Africa, they must have a minimum of a month's camping for them to compete favourably with their peers.
While appreciating the Bayelsa State government for the support extended to the wrestling federation to host the All Africa Games and Olympic Games trials, Hon. Igali said he was impressed with the rapid growth of the young wrestlers, especially Harrison Israel and Stephen Simon, who, according to him, have performed beyond expectations.
He explained that eighteen athletes have qualified for the All Africa games, while twenty-two athletes would be going for the Africa wrestling championship in Alexandria, Egypt, pointing out that Nigeria would present a full female team after winning the female category last year in Hammamet, Tunisia.
The NWF president praised the officiating officials and the technical team for their professionalism in ensuring everything went smoothly throughout the trials. In the meantime, 12th-time Africa champion and Tokyo 2020 silver medalist Blessing Oborodudu has secured a place in next month's All Africa games in Accra, Ghana.
Oborodudu dismantled Tokere Appah of Bayelsa in a pinfall in what could be described as a seamless bout to book a place in the 38th All Africa Games. Also, Ebi Biogos of Bayelsa and Hannah Reuben of the Nigerian Army proved too strong for their opponents, as they triumphed in their respective classes at 72 kg and 76 kg, respectively. Delta-born wrestlers Soso Tamarau and Ashton Mutuwa of Plateau caused the biggest upsets in the 97 kg and 125 kg divisions.
The American-based Mutuwa upset National Champion Progress Benson of Rivers to secure the African Games qualification and Olympic qualifiers. Nigerian wrestling sensation Harrison Isreal of Bayelsa reclaimed his crown to defeat Jackson Oluwafemi of Ondo, who was the national champion in the 86 kg.
Stephen Simon of Bayelsa earlier in the 65kg trounced former national champion Amas Daniel of Bayelsa, while Braveman Pere in the 74kg equally secured qualification to the Games in Accra, Ghana. Enozumini Simon of Edo, weighing 57 kg, booked a slot in the 38th All Africa Games, joining notable names like Blessing Oborodudu, Hannah Reuben, Mercy Genesis, and Kolawole Esther to qualify for the games.