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Nigerian wrestlers lament as sports festival clashes with Olympic qualifiers




Nigerian wrestlers preparing for the Africa/Oceania Tokyo Olympics qualifiers and Africa Wrestling Championships in Tunisia have lamented the clash in dates of the competition with the 2020 National Sports Festival in Benin, the Edo State capital.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development last Thursday proposed April 2 to 14 as the new dates for the 2020 sports festival, which coincides with the wrestling championships, billed for April 2 to 4.

It will be closely followed by the 2021 African Championships at the same venue from April 6 to 11.

A total of 10 wrestlers are currently in Bayelsa preparing for the Olympic qualifiers and are due to miss out of the NSF.

National wrestling team captain, Daniel Amas, said the clash of dates has forced the athletes to choose between the qualifiers and representing their respective states.

“It is worrisome, but there is nothing we can do because of the clash. We had to take one, which is the qualifiers, a national assignment,” Amas told The PUNCH.

“No one will want to miss the Olympic qualifiers for the festival. I know they are all important because most athletes are state employees, but then, in everyone’s sporting career, the Olympics is very important.”

Commonwealth Games and African champion Aminat Adeniji said, “Sometimes we don’t have control over what happens. I wouldn’t criticize the date of the festival because it’s an event everyone’s been waiting for. If it hadn’t clashed, we would attend both, but since it has, we will just have to do the right thing.

“It wasn’t easy picking one over the other because they’re both very important. It saddens  me to have to let go of the festival for the Olympics qualifiers. I went for the qualifiers because it is more important for me. But to be candid, it would have been better if I attended both.”

Four-time African champion Ogbonna John added, “My aim is to qualify for the Olympics, I have the record as a sports festival champion, so I’m just looking forward to qualifying for the Olympics.” Punch

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