AFRICAN WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIP
Peter Ukoro handed Nigeria a surprise gold medal in the 55kg Greco-Roman event for cadet wrestlers on Day 1 of competition at the ongoing African Wrestling Championship in Port Harcourt.
The youngster from Bauchi State defeated Omar Adel Abdelaziz of Egypt 4-0 in the final to win the precious medal.
“I feel very glad and happy about it,” Ukoro said shortly after his he was presented the gold medal.
“It was awesome but enjoyable because Greco-Roman is enjoyable to me. I am glad and by the grace of God, I know I can be the best in this event,” gushed the lad who was carried shoulder high by his teammates after the bout at the Alfred Diete Spiff Sports Centre in the heart of the Garden City.
In some of the other events decided, thursday Lu Shawn Leonico KOK of South Africa settled for bronze after overcoming Namibia’s Linus Katujanda, 4-0.
In the 60kg weight class, Ikechukwu Robinson of Team Nigeria won bronze after subduing Tunisia’s Medhi Dheker, 8-0 while Ahmed Merikhi of Algeria won gold in that class by beating Zeyad Emadeldin Helmi Yakout of Egypt, 8-3.
The competition continues today with more Nigerians gunning for medals.
Meanwhile, the President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation Daniel Igali has said the ongoing Africa Wrestling Championship has helped the country to identify hidden talents in the sport.
Igali said the cadet and junior wrestlers groomed in three national camps have afforded the country to have a pool of wrestlers for the future.
The Olympic gold medalist was speaking at the opening ceremony of the AWC on Wednesday in Port Harcourt.
He commended Governor Nyesom Wike for helping in the preparation of the Nigerian athletes for the continental event.
A total of 90 wrestlers are representing the country in the continental competition which is coming to Nigeria for the first time in 42 years.
Igali said: “We are happy we have young ones who can always be called upon. The talents are there but we do not have enough competitions to look at them.
“Gov Wike has really helped us and I am happy that of the 180 athletes in camp, we have people who can take over from the senior ones in future.”
Wike assured wrestling stakeholders that the government of Rivers State would create the enabling environment for all the wrestlers from 35 countries and other participants to enjoy the Garden City.
Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, urged the country’s representatives to be good ambassadors of Nigeria at the championship.