150 participants from 15 countries will take part in the maiden edition of the Nigeria Taekwondo Open billed for the Abuja National Stadium, reports Completesports.com.
The event which is a world ranking tournament is slated for three days from the 8th of February to the 10th will see athletes from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Congo DRC, France, Gabon, Ghana, Guadeloupe, Mali, Niger Republic, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Togo, and US compete at the tournament.
However, Nigerian athletes have started talking tough ahead of the championship as national team stars like Michael Akande and Abdullah Adegoke believe the foreigners would not dominate.
A confident Akande told the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation media department: “I expect to win a gold medal at the Nigeria Open, and if there is something beyond that; then I will go for it too. But right now, it is only the gold medal that I am training hard for, and it is the gold medal that I shall win.”
“The Nigeria Open is a very good opportunity since it is taking place right here in the country [Nigeria]. So I encourage the local athletes to utilize this opportunity well to register and compete in Nigeria Open 2019.
“We have foreigners that are coming here to compete with us. We should not allow other countries to take the glory. Let us make Nigeria proud.”
Adegoke, a former national youth champion, who was a quarterfinalist at the National Sports Festival in Abuja, says he is hoping to right the wrong that befell him at the national festival.
“My last tournament was at the National Sports Festival held in Abuja. I learnt a lesson that I will never ever forget as I lost in the quarterfinals after the brutal round robin stage. It was the most painful loss of my career,” Adegoke also told the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation media department
“I was so depressed after the 2018 National Sports Festival because I did not win a medal. But the importance of the Nigeria Open, especially as it is a historic event, motivated me to train again and register for the event.”
“Now I am training very hard so that I would not lose again, and I will keep aiming to go higher and higher in my career.”
“I am a bit anxious because I know that every competitor has his own skill and way of fighting just to win. I have fought with so many taekwondo athletes with different skills and I know I might probably be facing yet other competitors with probably any skill set at the Nigeria Open.”
“But that will not make me withdraw from my vow of making history at the Nigeria Open. It is going to be fun meeting with them, competing with them, making more friends, making history, and as well winning against them.”