Category Archives: Wrestling

African Wrestling Championships: Team Nigeria Arrives Algiers In Confident Mood

Nigeria’s contingent to the ongoing 2020 African Wrestling Championships in Algeria, on Thursday, arrived Algiers – venue of the completion – brimming with confidence.

The delegation of 20 athletes and officials, which left Lagos a day earlier, touched down at the Houari Boumediene International Airport around 3:15 pm local time (which is also same time in Nigeria) via a Turkish airline flight and were immediately conveyed to their base, Hotel L’Olympic, in Cherega district of Algiers, about an hour drive from the airport.

Blessing Oborodudu

Speaking shortly after arriving Algiers, Team captain and 5-time African champion Amas Daniel (65kg) said he and his teammates are ready to conquer the continent.

“The team is very ready, mentally we’re ready, physically we’re much prepared,” he said. “So, we are very ready.

“People should be optimistic because we’ve trained a lot. Wrestling is all about your training, and when you know you’ve trained very well, that is what gives you confidence. You know we’ve been practicing in our camps. We are very, very confident to dominate Africa, and we are ready.

Odunayo Adekuoroye,

“Nigerians are expecting a lot from us, and we will not let them down,” the 2014 Commonwealth silver-medalist promised.

Team Nigeria female wrestlers – winners of 5 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals at the last edition of the tournament in Tunisia – are the defending champions, and are gunning for a record-extending 9th consecutive triumphs at the tournament.

Leader of the delegation and secretary general of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) Umar Lambu, who stood in for the NWF president Hon. Daniel Igali, said the Team’s mission in Algiers is to successfully defend that title.

“The journey was smooth. We thank God for journey mercies, we arrived safely.

Team Nigeria

“And our mission here is to replicate what our athletes did last year. You know last year we won the title of African champions in female wrestling. The main aim is to come and defend that title. We hope to replicate that performance to make our country Nigeria proud.”

The team is officially billed to have its first training session at 9:30am on Friday, before taking to the mats for action on Saturday in Women Wrestling.

The men are scheduled to wrestle on the final day of competition on Sunday.

Wrestling: Oborududu Climbs To Career-High No. 3, Adekuoroye Returns To No. 2 In World Rankings

Commonwealth champion Blessing Oborududu (68kg) has moved up to a career-high No. 3 in the latest world rankings released by the United World Wrestling, following her impressive outing at the recently-concluded Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series tournament in Rome, Italy, where she won a bronze medal.

Blessing Oborududu

Obourududu (30pts) jumped four places from 7th in the previous ranking to her best-ever 3rd position, behind top ranked American and world champion Tamyra Mensah (74pts) and second-placed Anna Fransson (40pts) of Sweden.

Similarly, Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg) reclaimed her second position in the global ranking, after winning gold at the tournament in Rome. The world bronze medalist was rated No. 3 prior to the tournament.

She now has 43pts in second place behind Japanese world no. 1 Risako Kawai with 60pts. In third place is former world champion Ningning Rong of China, who has 40pts.

Daniel IGALI

Reacting to their latest rankings, president of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) Hon. Daniel Igali, who served as their coach in Rome, stated that participating at the Ranking Series tournament in Italy has yielded the expected results.

“The main aim of going to the (Matteo) Pellicone Ranking Series tournament was to improve our rankings at the world and have our athletes highly seeded at the top 4 in the Olympics. And everything has gone according to plan,” he said.

“Last year Adekuoroye was No. 2 but slightly dropped (to No. 3), now she is back to No. 2. Blessing Oborududu was No. 4, dropped to No. 7, now she’s back to No. 3, which is her best ranking so far.

“We have the African Championships next month; actually in a couple of weeks, which is also a ranking tournament that carries about 18 points for gold. So, if Adekuoroye and Blessing (Oborududu) both win (there), I think they can’t do worse than No. 2 in the rankings, it could even get higher.”

Their current ranking, if maintained, is expected to fetch the wrestlers favourable draws at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan later this year.

Odunayo Adekuoroye

Though, former world No. 1 Adekuoroye is the only Nigerian wrestler that has qualified for the 2020 Olympics following her bronze-winning performance at the 2019 World Championships in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan, Oborududu and other wrestlers are expected to also qualify for Tokyo, with the Africa/Oceania Olympic qualifiers set for El Jadida, Morocco in March.

Nigeria’s Adekuoroye Reigns In Rome, Oborududu Settles For Bronze

Wrestling sensation and 2-time Commonwealth champion Odunayo Adekuoroye reigned supreme in Rome at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series tournament, claiming gold in a very dominant fashion in the final of the 57kg class, while Blessing Oborududu (68kg) settled for bronze at the event.

After convincingly taking out her opponents in the earlier rounds, Adekuoroye demolished Indian Anshu Anshu 10-0 via technical superiority in the final to land gold.

On her way to the final, the former world No. 1 impressively overcame Alina Akobii of Ukraine 12-0, before recording a 10-0 victory via technical superiority over home girl Arianna Carieri in the quarter-finals. In the semi-finals, she outclassed USA’s Allison Ragan 10-3 to advance to the gold medal match.

Blessing Oborududu

Despite losing to world champion Tamyra Mensah (USA) in her match, Oborududu fought for bronze via repechage, as her American conqueror reached the final.

In the repechage, the Commonwealth champion beat Koumba Larroque of France 6-2, before walking over Alina Makhynia of Ukraine to eventually settle for a bronze medal.

For Aminat Adeniyi in the 62kg, she defeated Italians Sara Da Col 8-4 in the qualification round and Elena Esposito 10-0 via superiority in the round of 16, before going down 8-2 to American Kayla Miracle in the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, world champion in beach wrestling Blessing Onyebuchi (76kg) could not compete as a result of ill-health.

World No. 3 Adekuoroye and Oborududu, who is ranked No. 7 prior to the tournament in Rome, are expected to move up in the rankings as a result of their impressive showing.

Multiple African champion Mercy Genesis (50kg) will be in action on Friday.

Odunayo Adekuoroye photo credit: Nigeria Amateur Wrestling Federation

Team Nigeria’s performance in Rome will surely come as a cheering news to female head coach Purity Akuh, who could not travel with the wrestlers, as he was robbed of his belongings including his international passport on his way to Lagos for the trip.

In his place, President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation Hon. Daniel Igali, a certified coaches educator, stepped in, and has been working as their coach at the tournament.

Igali Hopes For ‘Better’ 2020 In Nigerian Wrestling…Targets 8 Olympic Spots

After recording some ground-breaking achievements last year, President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) Hon. Daniel Igali is hopeful that 2020 will be even ‘better’ for the sport in the country.

In addition to dominating the continent at the African Championships in Tunisia and the 12th African Games in Morocco in 2019, Team Nigeria grabbed three global laurels. Back-to-back Commonwealth champion Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg) won bronze – her third medal at the World Championships in Kazakhstan, while Blessing Onyebuchi (70+) and Mercy Genesis (50kg), both claimed gold and silver medals respectively at the inaugural ANOCA World Beach Games in Doha, Qatar, to establish Nigeria as a force to reckon with in world wrestling.

Adekuoroye with Daniel Igali

Looking ahead to what promises to be a very busy year in wrestling, the Bayelsa State Sports Commissioner highlighted some of the competitions that the country’s wrestlers will tentatively be taking part in.

“2019 was definitely a good year for Nigeria, but our desire and hope is that 2020 becomes even a better year for us,” the World and Olympic champion said.

“We are starting off with the Italian Ranking Series Tournament in just about a week. Baring visa difficulties, we hope to make it there with about five athletes and a coach. And it will help with our ranking for the Olympics.

“We have the African Championships coming up in February (in Algeria), and we are hoping that, at the minimum, we are going to retain our title as African Champions in female wrestling.”

With only Adekuoroye securing her place at the Olympics this year by virtue of winning bronze at the 2019 World Championships, Hon. Igali also disclosed that the NWF intends to qualify no fewer than six athletes for the Tokyo 2020 Games, adding that plans will be made to give them quality preparations as well.

Nigeria Wrestling Team

“Our desire and goal this year is to qualify between six and eight athletes to the Olympics, and that will take place in March,” he said.

“We are hoping that we would have the financial resources to get our athletes prepared enough to get probably our largest team going to the Olympics in March in El Jadida, Morocco (venue of the Africa/Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament).

“We also have a couple of Olympic preparatory tournaments. We have another Ranking Series tournament in June.

President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) Hon. Daniel Igali

“Our plan is to have every athlete who qualified for the Olympics to get a minimum of 20 matches before the Olympics proper.”

At the Rio Games in Brazil four years ago, seven wrestlers (five women and two men) represented Nigeria.

Nigeria is yet to win an Olympic medal in wrestling.

However, the NWF boss Igali won a historic gold medal at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia while fighting for Canada.

Nigeria’s Igali Sponsors Cadet, Junior National Wrestling Championships

President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) Hon. Daniel Igali has promised to sponsor a developmental competition tagged the Daniel Igali South-South Cadet/Junior Championships in 2020.

Daniel Igali

The Bayelsa State Commissioner for Sports Development made this promise during the final board meeting of the NWF on Wednesday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.

The competition, which will tentatively take place in Yenago in May, is aimed at unearthing young talents below 17 years in the South-South region of the country.

“I will be sponsoring a competition for cadets and youths in the South-South in May,” Igali, a World and Olympic wrestling champion, told the board of the NWF.

Daniel IGALI

“This tournament will give the younger athletes a platform to showcase their talent and also expose them to competition early.

“We also hope to discover talents who will go ahead to replace the aging ones in future during this competition.”

WRESTLING: Nigeria Wrestling Federation Rolls Out 2020 Programmes

The Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) have released a programme of activities it intends to undertake in the upcoming year; 2020.

The programme released at the just-concluded board meeting of the Federation in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, comprises both local and international competitions intended to keep the athletes busy throughout the calendar year (2019) as they vie for honours and also seek qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Nigeria Wrestling Federation board members

The activities will commence with the registration and licensing of the wrestlers by their respective State associations and wrestling clubs on 1st of January 2020 and subsequent affiliation of the States/Clubs to the governing body, NWF.

Local camping for the wrestlers will commence a day after, on the 2nd January.

Nigeria will take part in her first tournament of the New Year – the Matteo Pellicone Senior Ranking Series – from 15th to 18th January in Rome, Italy, which will be followed by the National Olympic Trials in Yenagoa/Abuja from 27th to 31st of the same month.

Nigeria Wrestling Federation Boss Daniel Igali Reflects On ‘Very Good’ Year For Nigerian Wrestling

President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) Hon. Daniel Igali has hailed the performances of the country’s wrestlers this year, describing 2019 as a ‘very good’ for Nigerian wrestling.

While speaking in his office in Yenagoa, Hon. Igali, who is also the Sports Commissioner in Bayelsa State, added that the wrestlers, who won lots of laurels at both continental and global championships this year, have performed incredibly well and deserve commendation.

Nigeria’s Female wrestling team

“I think till date, the performances of the Nigerian wrestling team this year were probably the most outstanding of the past seven, eight years,” he said.

“Starting from the African Championships (in Tunisia) where, again, our women became overall African champions for the 7th time in a row, and then, looking at the 12th African Games (in Morocco), where we again dominated not only as a female team, but as the overall best team in Africa in female wrestling, male wrestling and Greco Roman by coming home with 7 gold medals.

ODUNAYO Adekuoroye,
With DANIEL Igali

“Then to the World Championships (in Kazakhstan) this year, where we qualified Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg) for the Olympics by winning a bronze medal; a historic bronze medal. She’s, without a doubt, become the measuring rod in Nigeria Wrestling Federation, winning three medals within four years at the World Championships. That is outstanding, and you can’t really take anything away from her.

“Blessing Oborududu (68kg) at the same competition (at the World Championships in Kazakhstan) was just one placing away from qualifying for the Olympics. She placed 7th instead of 6th.

“And Mercy Genesis (50kg) won a silver medal at the World Beach Games (in Doha), while Blessing Onyebuchi (+70kg) became our world champion in Beach wrestling by winning a gold medal. And those were the two medals Nigeria won out of the team that was presented.”

Still reflecting on the achievements of the wrestlers this year, the Olympic and world champion added that it will be difficult to surpass their feat considering the lean budget the federation operates on.

Blessing Oborududu

“As we speak, we have two athletes ranked in the top 4 in the world,” he noted. “Blessing Oborududu (68kg) is No.4 and Adekuoroye Odunayo (57kg) is No. 2 in the world.

“And I doubt if there is any other sport, outside of Paralympic sports, that has two athletes ranked in the top 4 in the world.

Team Nigeria Arrive New York In High Spirit For Beat The Streets (last year)

“Those are just the competitions that have come off the top of my head. If we are to look at the Grand Prix (ranking) tournaments we had in Germany and Bulgaria, where we had our athletes win international medals, that goes to tell me that we had a very good season. A season that will be hard to replicate, especially when you compare the level of funding we have against what we’re able to achieve as a federation.

Nigeria Wrestling Federation President Daniel Igali

“So, looking back, I will say this is a very good year for Nigerian wrestling,” the vice president of the Commonwealth Wrestling Board concluded.