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Bodybuilding of Friday, 14 January 2022

Source: thenationonlineng.net

Weightlifting: magic behind Nigeria’s conquest

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Since 2011, Nigeria has not won a medal at any international weightlifting tournament but in December 2011, the team made a triumphant return with the seven-man contingent claiming four medals.

The last person to claim an international medal for Nigeria at the IWF-organised world championship was Mariam Usman who wriggled out two bronze medals for the country at the 2011 edition in Paris, France.

But at the recently held World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Team Nigeria won one silver medal and three bronze medals while the team also claimed four gold medals to secure four slots at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Regarded as Nigeria’s best outing at the World Championships since Antalya, Turkey 2001 when Blessed Udoh (48kg) and Helen Idahosa (+75kg) won two silver and one bronze medals.

“I am very happy and excited about the performance of the team because in that Championship we were able to get direct qualification for the Commonwealth Games for four athletes,” Technical Director of NWF, Christopher Nwadei, told NationSport.

Nwadei thumbed up the moral and financial support from the NWF President, Ibrahim Abdul while urging corporate and individual bodies to come to the aid of the sport to ensure proper preparations for upcoming championships and the Commonwealth Games.

He continued: “Our outing in Tashkent gives me the assurance that Nigerian Weightlifters can do well at the global scene if we have the adequate support and preparation.

“The support shouldn’t just be from the Federal Government alone. Corporate organisations must come to our aid to assist in accomplishing our programmes. There are a lot of events that we don’t use to attend because of financial constraints.

“We are not going to rest on our oars if we still want to sustain that level of record of performance, we need to step up our preparation for the Commonwealth Games.”

Team Nigeria captain and winner of four medals, Adijat Olarinoye was full of joy even as she called on corporate bodies and individuals to support her dream with the aim of excel ling in other future competitions.

“I’m grateful to God and to all those that made it possible for me to win those medals. I want to especially thank our able President, Dr. Ibrahim Abdul for his benevolence. We trained seamlessly and God crowned our efforts in Uzbekistan,” Olarinoye disclosed.”I was at the African Games in Morocco in 2019.

“I won two gold and silver medals and also set an African record. I was in Uzbekistan in 2020 where I won three gold medals. I also won the best female athlete at the competition.

“ In 2021, I was ranked fifth in the world and I won three gold medals in Kenya at the 2021 African Championship . I am the Commonwealth Games record holder in the clean and jerk and total event.

” But I need more support and sponsors to come to help with my programmes in terms of training grants and other logistics.

“ I can’t just rely on my previous results and achievements. I must strive harder to be better than I am. I have set targets for myself this year and adequate funding is the only means to meet up with my targets,” she concluded.

Another weightlifter who won a gold medal in the Commonwealth Championships was Stella Kingsley. She admitted that she was nervous before her event, adding that she was motivated by the support from her teammates.

Attributing the success to the quality training they had in Lokoja, Kogi state while haling the NWF President Dr. Ibrahim Abdul and the Christopher Nwadei-led technical crew for the support.

“The preparation was very good; the technical director Christopher Nwadei did a great job. He sacrificed everything for us to have a near perfect preparation. He did a great job.

“It is for me to sit up and train harder because if I relax others are there to take my place. I must ensure I do my best to sustain the momentum and ensure I prepare well for the Commonwealth Games.”

Meanwhile, Ogbonne Eze who won a gold and bronze medals and also set youth world record in the competition in the 71kg said the competition was tough, vowing to continue to work harder.

“I am grateful to Almighty God who gave me the power to do all that I achieved in Uzbekistan. I’m extremely happy. I’m expecting more,” Eze said.

“The competition was tough and the battle for medals was so intense. I’m happy with my performance though I know there is room for improvement. I need to train more because the more you ingrain yourself in training, the more the expected result comes. If you relax everything will be at a standstill.”

Yet Asemota, an assistant coach of the team, has called for early camping and adequate motivation for Nigeria is to do well at the Commonwealth Games.

“We still need to camp the athletes early for the Commonwealth Games. They also need someone to motivate them to offer their best too. With adequate encouragement and adequate preparation key, we have potential gold medalists at the Olympics among these athletes.”

Similarly, Rafiat Lawal a gold medalist at the Commonwealth Championships, has also called for another long camping exercise ahead of the 2022 competitions: “We had a very good preparation in Lokoja, Kogi State courtesy of the NWF President, Dr. Ibrahim Abdul .

“ He supported morally, financially and also devoted his time to us. He did everything possible to ensure we attend the World Championships. I can say that the camping we had was the best ever because we spent close to two months in Lokoja.

“I want to suggest that we have another long camping for the Commonwealth Games; the more equipped we will be for the Commonwealth Games,” Lawal added.

Quipped the President of the NWF:”The passion that we have for the sport is the force that is driving us to break every barrier. In life, you will meet obstacles along the way but you must be determined to face the challenges. You will recall I was on the last board of the Nigeria Weightlifting Federation.

“I’m still the Chairman FCT Weightlifting Association.

“I gathered the experience from that, that it was good for the lifters to resume camp early. We started work from the first day with the setting up of various committees. It is not about me but about the athletes and whatever we do will either affect them negatively or positively.

“I knew they would perform at the IWF World Championship in Uzbekistan because I watched them closely during the camping period. They showed that glimpse.

“My target was two medals in the IWF World Championship but they surpassed it. The magic was early preparation.”

He however, hinted that the NWF board would continue to work hard to improve their performance in subsequent competitions.

He explained: “The lifters are currently on holiday but they have been given specific tasks they must perform on daily basis and then revert to their coach because they must remain fit before entering camp. We are lacking the necessary equipment.

“The performance in Uzbekistan didn’t come through luck but the lifters worked so hard for it. They know that they cannot afford to be complacent.

“We know we already have four lifters that have qualified for the Commonwealth Games by the gold medals they won at the Commonwealth Championship also in Uzbekistan. In February 2022, the ranking will be out and we expect to have more lifters qualifying.

“We also hope to take part in the African qualifiers that are taking place in Mauritius in February. We may have to invite the lifters back to camp in early January.

“We are hoping to have 10 lifters at the Commonwealth Games. It is our determination to ensure we win at least six medals at the Commonwealth Games.”