By Oluwole Francis
Brazil’s Milena Titoneli and Haiti’s Aliyah Shipman will be at Tokyo 2020 Olympics after earning the slots in the women -67kg category at the just concluded Pan Am qualification tournament for Tokyo 2020, which was held between 11 and 12 March 2020 at Costa Rica.
The duo joins Nigeria’s Elizabeth Anyanacho to bring the field up to eleven competitors out of sixteen competitors in that Olympic weight category.
Qualified competitors might have to wait a bit to know the remaining field of five after the World Taekwondo body postponed the European and Asian qualification tournaments, which were scheduled to hold in April, due to the current coronavirus pandemic.
Already qualified in the female -67kg category, via world ranking, are Ruth Gbagbi of Cote D’ivoire, Croatia’s Matea Jelic, Turkey’s Nur Tatar Askariof, Great Britain’s Lauren Williams, China’s Mengyu Zhang, Paige Mc Pherson of USA.
Qualified from Oceania is Tonga’s Malia Paseka.
Qualified from Africa are Egypt’s Hedaya Malak and Nigeria’s Elizabeth Anyanacho, who clinched the sole ticket for Nigeria and is the first female in 16 years to qualify for the Olympics for Nigeria. She is also the second ever female Olympian, after Princess Dudu first achieved the feat at Athens 2004.
The women -67kg category is scheduled to hold on 27 July 2020 at the Makuhari Messe Hall A, in Tokyo Japan, according to a tentative timetable on the official website for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.[8:39 AM, 3/13/2020] Wole: Anyanacho to fight on 26 July as Pan Am Opponents emerge and Coronovirus pandemic upheaves World Taekwondo calendar
First Nigerian Taekwondo female to qualify for the Olympics in 16 years, Elizabeth Anyanacho, has confessed that the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe has her worried about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, scheduled to hold between 22 July and 3 August 2020.
Her worries are coming after the official website for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics reveals a tentative schedule for the Taekwondo event to hold between 25 and 28 July.
“It worries me a bit about that possibility that the Olympics might be postponed or cancelled. Already my preparations are being affected. The Egypt Open in three weeks has been cancelled and so has the Belgium open next month. There were plans to compete in these events, but it is no longer possible.”
The 20-year old is however adamant that the health and safety of the world is a much higher priority than the Olympics, and hopes that the pandemic is brought under control sooner than later.
“It is horrible that over a hundred thousand people across 171 countries so far have been affected and more than 5000 have died. It is so sad and I pray that a vaccine is produced as soon as possible as the impact is really devastating.”
The women -67kg category, where Elizabeth qualified to compete in at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is scheduled to hold on 26 July and the women in that category will no doubt have one eye on the coronavirus update and another eye on the Olympic qualification events that are slowly filling up the quota in that weight category.
At the just concluded Pan Am Olympic qualification tournament for Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Brazil’s Titoneli Milena and Haiti’s Aliyah Shipman earned their women -67kg qualification tickets.
In a major indication of the dangers posed by the current coronavirus pandemic, World Taekwondo has cancelled the Asian and European Olympic qualification tournaments, which were supposed to be held in April.
Many other ranking events, scheduled to hold in March and April, and that would have helped international athletes gain ranking points and experience ahead of the Olympics have also been cancelled.
Some of the affected tournaments include the Egypt Open, Spanish Open, WTE Club Championships in Croatia and the Fajr Cup in Iran.