The Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF) on Tuesday confirmed its participation in the forthcoming African Olympic Qualifications Tournament billed for Rabat, Morocco from Feb. 20 to Feb. 23.
A board member of NTF, Chika Chukwumerije, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos, that the athletes would feature in the eight Olympic weight categories.
Chukwumerije said that Nigeria would be represented by African Champion with star athletes in the likes of a 25-year-old Chinazum Nwosu, African Bronze medalists; 24-year-old Benjamin Okuomose; 20-year-old Elizabeth Anyanacho and Nigeria Open Gold medalist 21-year-old Ifeoluwa Ajayi.
He said that the competition was the only opportunity left for African nations to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
“The athletes that made up Team Nigeria for the Tokyo 2020 qualification tournament have been in camp for past seven weeks, fully prepared and have secured their visas.
“But, they are yet to depart due to unavailability of funds.
“However, they are slated for the eight Olympic weight categories: Male -58kg, -68kg, -80kg and +80kg, female -49kg, -57kg, -67kg and +67kg.
“It is fundamental for us to go for this competition as it is the only opportunity for African nations to book a place and pick ticket for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,’’ he told NAN.
The NTF technical director noted that the World Taekwondo (WT) rules for the Olympics allow countries to contest in only four categories for the continental qualifications.
“The forthcoming qualifications tournament would be participated by 36 countries including: Algeria, Benin Republic, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote D’ivoire, Djibouti, DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia and Gabon.
“Other are: Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.
“Nigeria Taekwondo Team were at the Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 Qualification tournaments, and only failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics,’’ he said.