*As African Wrestling Champions drives to close in Port Harcourt
Akure secondary school student and Nigeria’s Simisola Balogun has qualified for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games scheduled for Buenos Aires from 6th to 18th October. The 2018 edition would be the third edition of the Summer Youth Olympics.
Balogun in an electrifying final, came from a 4-0 deficit to defeat Cameroon’s Natasha Nabaina 4-5 in the female 65kg cadet event at the ongoing African Wrestling Championships in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
An elated Balogun who could not hide her feelings said that it was a dream come true winning her first Gold medal in an international tournament.
“I went into the final with an injury which almost cost me the bout which Natasha took advantage of. When I looked at the scoreboard and saw 4-0 points, what kept ringing on my mind was not to disappoint either my coach or country Nigeria. With determination, I came from behind to win 4-5 points”.
“I got overexcited when the news broke I’ll be representing Nigeria at the Youth Olympics Games in spite my injury” she said.
Balogun said, “The Youth Olympics Games is eight months from now, I will not be carried away by the feat achieved at the African championships. My coach has a lot of work to do as regards training and I promise not to let him down”.
Balogun is a student of CAC Grammar School, Akure, Ondo State.
With some events yet to be decided, Team Nigeria has won 46 medals at the ongoing Africa Wrestling Championships holding at the Alfred Diete-Spiff Civil Centre, Port Harcourt. It comprise 16 gold, 14 silver and 16 bronze medals.
As at the time of this report many events are still ongoing and Nigeria’s medals chances are still high. The championships will end on Sunday 11th February.
Daniel Igali, the president, Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) told newsmen that the country’s representatives had been impressive. Igali said that he was particularly impressed by the skills exhibited by the cadet team.
“Over the years, we didn’t have a cadet team and I’m glad we have now and they are pulling their weights. We are not there yet but it’s a gradual process and we are on the right path to get it right eventually.
“When I started wrestling then, there was nothing like cadet team. I started wrestling at age 16 and it was straight to the senior team. This is a good development because it provides an avenue to catch them young and groom them well to fully maximise their potential.”
No fewer than 90 wrestlers which comprising both males and females are representing Nigeria at the competition. Some of the countries participating in the championship are: Nigeria the host, Liberia, Egypt, Guinea Bissau, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Namibia, Kenya, Burundi, Cameron, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Ghana, Uganda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Madagascar and Senegal.