With just two athletes, the taekwondo team of the Chika Chukwumerije Sports Foundation (CCSF) won two medals at the Dakar International Taekwondo Open, which held on 17th and 18th March 2019 at the Ndiaye Stadium, Dakar Senegal.
Upcoming star, Elizabeth Anyanacho, continued her golden form as she clinched the gold medal in the adult -67kg category and she also was named the best female fighter of the event. Team CCSF Captain, Peter Itiku won the bronze medal in the male +80kg category.
Elizabeth Anyanacho, who also clinched gold medals and best player awards earlier this year at the Korea Cup in Accra Ghana and CCSF Prix Series I had her work cut out for her in Dakar.
Her epic battle with USA’s Ben Yessouf Tekiath ended in a 6 – 6 stalemate, before Elizabeth prevailed over her vicious opponent in the golden point round. Finals was against the hosts and with a full capacity crowd cheering on her opponent, Elizabeth held her nerves to secure an 8 – 0 victory over Senegal’s Aminata Deme.
Peter Itiku, who also won gold medals at the Korea Cup in Accra and CCSf Prix Series I in Abuja, beat Senegal’s National Team player, Malick Niang [8 – 5] in the first round, demolished Therno Diop of Senegal’s University Club [12 – 4].
He went on to defeat El Hadji Fall of As Pririne Club [11 – 5] in the quarter-finals before losing to Senegal’s National Player, Laye Seye [11 – 1] in the semi-finals. Seye had earlier on conquered Cape Verde’s Soares Lenine and Mali’s Toumani Diabate en route to adding the Nigerian to the list in the semi-finals.
For golden girl, Elizabeth Anyanacho, participation at the event was an important learning curve in her early career.
“Our mentor, Chika Chukwumerije, kept us calm. He told us to just focus on all the things we learnt in training and try it out here. That focusing on our performance was more important than focusing on medals. That is what I did, and I am happy I have gained valuable experience. I know there is a lot to learn and I will try and keep my focus moving forward,” said Anyanacho.
Bronze medallist, Peter Itiku, was equally upbeat on the future, “I have never had so many fights in one day and I gained so much from the entire experience. I know I lost the tactical battle in the semi-finals and I will work hard to continue to improve my competitive ability,” Itiku said.
World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) certified International Referee and two-time African Champion, Margaret Elizabeth Binga, who officiated at the event, applauded the efforts of the young athletes. “This is what sports development is all about – training athletes and exposing them. They have a lot to learn but they did Nigeria very proud at this event. With talents like this, I have great hope for the future of Nigeria Taekwondo,” Binga said.
CEO CCSF, 3-time Olympian, chose to thank persons who supported the team.
“If Nigerians like Mr Yemi Idowu, Mr Ikechukwu Okechukwu, Mr Adebola Williams, Mr Tony Anafulu and Princess Gloria Iweka chose not to support with air tickets and other finances to cover logistical costs, the team would not have gained this experience. How I wish a 1000 more Nigerians can support a consistent program that has proven to be effective”
He further applauded the raw talent of golden girl, Elizabeth Anyanacho.
“We have found quite a lot of talent in the past four years, She is definitely one of the gold mines. Even though she is 17 and should be competing in the juniors, her talent forced my decision for her two compete in the senior. Three tournaments this year, three gold medals plus three player of the tournaments awards. Her talent plus the hard work done with her clearly speaks for itself. We will see what happens”
More than 300 competitors from 19 countries participated at the Dakar International Opens, which was organized by three-time African Champion Balla Dieye in partnership with the Senegal Taekwondo Federation.