By Salifu Usman, Abuja
Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF) push for podium finish at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has received huge boost as two of its prolific athletes, Uzoamaka Otuadinma, who is the reigning African Champion and Isah Abubakar Adamu, 2014 Commonwealth Youth Games’ gold medalist, secured Olympic Scholarship offered by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) for training for the Tokyo Games.
The duos were chosen based on their current ranking on the continent and their performance at international events over the past three years.
Otuadinma won silver at the 2017 Korea International Open, while US-based Abubakar won the 2016 World Taekwondo President Cup and 2017 Costa Rica Open.
Reacting to the development, the athletes promised to make the best of it to achieve their Olympic dreams.
According to Otuadinma, “it is hard to be competitive because we cannot afford to travel to compete or pay for the training but this scholarship eases that burden and it would help me to defend my African title in 2019 and to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics”
For Abubakar, “this IOC scholarship has motivated me more than ever and I thank the Nigeria Olympic Committee and Nigeria Taekwondo Federation for working hard to bring this kind of good support for my Olympic dream.”
The Olympic qualifiers for Africa in the taekwondo event will be held in January 2020.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF) has announced its preparedness to work in line with the new under-15 age guideline ahead of 2018 National Youth Games (NYG).
NTF Technical Director, Chika Chukwumerije made it clear that just as last year’s games produced young athletes that performed spectacularly at the just concluded African Youth Games (AYG), the federation was ready to fish out more upcoming Taekwondo sportsperson from this year’s NYG.
Chukwumerije who remains the only Nigeria Taekwondo Olympic medallist maintained, “Discovery of our future champions begins at the grassroots.”
Seven out of nine athletes that represented Nigeria at the just concluded AYG were discovered at previous editions of NYG.