Having tasted what it means to be a champion and the hurdles to make the podium at the Olympic Games, founder of Chika Chukwumerije Sports Foundation (CCSF), Chika Chukwumerije believes the road to stardom is still far for the four-man team that made Nigeria proud at the 8th Korean Cup Teakwondo Championships.
The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games bronze medallist who has been nurturing the athletes in the last 18months believes the experience garnered would be valuable to the athletes on their road to stardom.
“I believe the journey is still far for the athletes because they actually came here for the experience, and I am happy for the confidence the medals will give them. I am sad as a lack of funding support made us drop six other fantastic young athletes. I hope the performance of these ones will galvanise more support for this ambitious project,” the three-time Olympian said.
For the gold medallist in the male -87kg and the winner of the tournament Most Promising Player, Peter Itiku, the experience was more valuable than the laurels. “Winning the gold medal inspires me to do more. We came here just for the experience and it was meant to be a training session. It is the experience that was important. The medals were just a bonus. I am grateful to all my opponents for the weakness they exposed in me, despite my victory,” the 19-year-old said.
Also, Elizabeth Anyanacho, who clinched the gold medal in the female-73kg and the best female athlete of the tournament, believes her confident has grown in the sport.
“I just came here to put into practice what we have been taught in Abuja by Sabonim Chika. I feel more confident to confront the certain challenges I know are ahead of us,” the 17-year-old debutant said.
Despite settling for bronze medal in the male-63kg, Darius Danlami admitted the hurdles he faced to make it to the podium.
His words: “All my bouts were very tough, and it made me see first-hand how difficult it is to be a champion. The entire journey has been a great learning experience. We made new friends, tasted the local Ghanaian cuisine, learnt a bit of their language. It was not just about taekwondo, we learnt valuable life lessons.”
Attracted to the feat achieved by Team CCSF four-man contingent, winner in the-68kg female category, Ghana’s Augusta Agbozo said: “It is amazing that Team CCSF came with just four athletes, but are leaving with three medals and two trophies. What would have happened if they brought their entire team? Given the fact that this is the very first competition for these young athletes, it is truly extraordinary.”
Five countries including host – Ghana, Nigeria, Niger Republic, Togo and Cote D’Ivoire took part in the tournament with nine-man Niger Republic carting home the overall title with five gold, two silver and one bronze medals.