Nigerian team will return to the international stage at the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF)-organised World Championships holding this week in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Three experienced athletes led by Beijing 2008 Olympics bronze medalist, Chika Chukwumerije will hoist Nigeria’s flag at the global tournament, where athletes are expected to garner points for their final qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil.
United States-based Saturday Bashir and France-based Murtala Mohammed will be on duty at the tournament kicking off tomorrow at Traktor Arena in Chelyabinsk.
Besides Nigeria, some top African teams like Gabon, Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire and Tunisia are also using the tournament as a tune-up to this year’s All Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville.
According to the President, Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF), George Ashiru who was at yesterday’s WTF Annual General Meeting (AGM) said the team’s build up was hampered by the political and economic situation in the country.
He however ruled out prospect of medals.
“Our chances are much slimmer than usual because we didn’t have the luxury and indeed necessity of a formal training camp you would expect from the biggest event of the year. We had expected to camp our athletes for two months prior to the now rescheduled National Sports Festival, use the festival to test these preparations, and then take only the athletes that demonstrated ability for the nature of the event. None of these opportunities were afforded us early in the year. So, training was informal open camp, and some bureaucratic bottlenecks also hampered our final push for sponsorship of the full national team. Therefore, we won’t have similar results as we would ordinarily expect with proper preparation,” he added.