Taekwondo: Nigerian athletes cry out over lack of funds

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With the African Taekwondo Championships coming up, the Nigerian contingent is crying out for help following lack of funds to attend the tourney.

The African championships hold in less than four weeks in Egypt and the athletes are desperate to partake in. The championship along with the All African Games are the only two G4 championships available to African athletes (who are not ranked in the top 32 in Olympic ranking points), and always a wonderful avenue to garner point and high level competition, to boot.

With little support from all levels of government in Nigeria, the Nigerian athletes have been left to provide funds for themselves and are seeking support from individuals and cooperate bodies who are willing to help.

According to Pulse Sports it is learnt that with the increase in exchange rate difficulties, many athletes have not been able to renew their Global Athletes License (GAL) for 2016-a prerequisite for competing at the African championship.

The athletes with valid licenses have been reached and have shown interest in joining hands with the Nigerian Taekwondo Federation (NTF) to raise funds for themselves. Each player need a least N200,000 to cover visa fees, air fare, registration and other miscellaneous costs.

Chika Chukwumerije in action
Chika Chukwumerije in action

Sources close to the NTF confirmed that the players and the coaches have made attempts to secure funds themselves and urged well-meaning Nigerians to assist in any way they can.

“The next time a G4 event will be open to all African players would be in 2018. The Pheonix rebirth that Nigerian Taekwondo so dearly needs, can begin with this event,” the source told Pulse Sports.

“The support of the Taekwondo public is needed now more than ever before. The team is looking out for donations from the public in what would be a huge chance lost, if Nigeria is not represented,”

Nigeria will compete at all three events, Kyorugi, Poomsae and Para-Taekwondo and the NTF have already concluded online registration process for the said athletes.

The points available to be won can push Nigerian athletes into Grand Prix positions for 2017, which would be remarkable as Nigeria has never had another participant at the elite Taekwondo Grand Prix, except Olympic games medalist, Chika Chukwumerije.

Ready to make their mark in the championships, the athletes have been training hard. Sources from the camp revealed that their spirits are high as they are very aware of what is at stake as most are still smarting from disappointments on various levels.

The athletes already have good level of experience and will be led by two out of the four National Coaches John Victor and Mohammed Abdulmalik, who are also seeking for funds themselves.

The Athletes

Jamilu Mohammed

He is one of the most decorated and experienced Nigerian athletes and hopes to become African champion for the second time in his career.

Edwin Samson

The All African Games silver medalist and Olympic trials bronze medalist will be looking to take it all in the -63kg category. Edwin merely missed an Olympic slot and will look to make an instant comeback with a gold medal.

Chinazum Nwosu

Nwosu is gunning for that elusive gold medal after three near misses in her last three internationals.

Santos Akhilele

Santos is a  Cotach and Lagos International  Classics champion who got a fair amount of International experience in 2015, including captaining the Nigerian delegation to the World University Olympics in South Korea. He will have incentive to post a good performance in Egypt and has a chance to put his underachieving demons to the sword.

Santos Akhilele
Santos Akhilele

Josephine Esuku

Qatar Open bronze medalist and Poomsae champion of the Commonwealth, Josephine will have a chance to add to her enviable collection as she will compete at both Kyorugi and Poomsae event. Arguably the most improved female fighter of 2015, she will have a chance to make history by winning two medals.

Josephine Esuku
Josephine Esuku

Uzoamaka Otuadinma

African champion, completes the pool of medal hunters. Fresh from completing her examinations and back to training, Uzo will be looking to defend her title over the likes of Algeria’s Linda Azeddine and Ivorian Mamina Kone.