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All African Games: Our Plan Is To Win Many Medals -Igali

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The president, Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF),  Daniel Igali says the federation plans to be one of the highest medal winning teams at the impending 12 All African Games in Rabat, Morocco.
Igali made the remark at the opening ceremony of the 3rd edition of the Governor Dickson National Wrestling Classics, holding at the Indoor Sports Hall of the Samson Siasia Stadium, Yenagoa, Bayelsa.
Igali added that being a pre-Olympic year, the tournament promises to be one of the most important for participating athletes and officials.
“Not only is this our national championships, it also doubles as our trials for selection to the African Games which takes place in Morocco in August and the World Championships in Kazakhstan in September, this year.
“Additionally, in line with the rules and regulations of the NWF, coaches and officials of the top teams in this championships will form the nucleus of the coaching crew to our international engagements,’’ he said.
The Olympian added that the NWF is determined to be one of the highest medal-winning teams at the All African Games scheduled to hold in August.
“Also, the World Wrestling Championships in Kazakhstan is the first Olympic qualifying tournament for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“We are equally poised to win medals and or place most of our national team wrestlers in the top 6 positions at the World Championships, to qualify enough of them for the 2020 Olympics.
“At consecutive Continental Championships and multi-sport international engagements such as the All African Games and the Commonwealth Games, Wrestling has been one of the highest medal winning sports for Nigeria.
“At the last All African Games in Congo Brazzaville, the wrestling team presented 23 wrestlers and won twenty medals, including 9 gold medals, comparatively one of the highest medal winning sports at the Brazzaville Games.
“Even at the most recent Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast Australia, Wrestling was the highest medal winning sport, presenting 12 athletes and winning 8 medals, including three gold medals,’’ he said.
Igali thanked Governor Seriake Dickson and the sport-loving people of Bayelsa for the enormous support wrestling had enjoyed from the state.
“Not only are we financially supported, we also have the moral and emotional support from the state government.
“At the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, Gov. Dickson personally went to Scotland to support the wrestling team.
“More significantly, after the last Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast Australia, Gov. Dickson was the only governor in the country that hosted the Wrestling team and gave mouth-watering financial incentives to all members of the team,’’ he said.
Igali congratulated and commended the governor and Government of Bayelsa for being the first state in the country to commence the construction of a befitting dedicated Wrestling gym of international standard.
“We recognise that this gym will not only benefit Bayelsa athletes, the National Wrestling team which has made Bayelsa State its training and camping base, will have a lot to benefit from this stand alone, dedicated Wrestling gym.
“We hereby encourage Gov. Dickson to ensure that the Gym is completed in good time, so we can use it to prepare for the various Olympic qualifying tournaments and the Olympic Games proper.
“We also use this opportunity to implore other state governments to follow in the footsteps of Gov. Dickson and the Bayelsa Government, by building befitting professional training facilities to aid the development of sports in the country,’’ he said.
Igali said that Bayelsa had become the hub of wrestling in the country over the past two decades.
“This is the 6th edition of the Bayelsa Governor’s Wrestling Classics which the NWF has adopted as our National championships.
“We thank Gov. Dickson and the Government of Bayelsa for the sponsorship of the longest-running National Championship series in the history of wrestling in Nigeria.
“We remain confident that with the assurance of continuity in the governance of Bayelsa, we will continue to enjoy the same patronage from whoever succeeds you as Governor.
“As we commence preparations for the All African Games, the World Championships and Olympic qualifying tournaments, we rely on your continued goodwill and support.
‘As a culture-loving Governor who promotes and protects our unique culture at every opportunity, I want to use this opportunity to solicit your help in funding  our wrestling support group (dancers and drummers), to support this wrestling team in Morocco in August.
“Morocco would be glad to have a taste of the unique Bayelsa Wrestling Ogele,’’ Igali said.
The 12th All African Games is scheduled to hold from Aug. 19 to Aug. 31, 2019.

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… As Coach Expresses Optimism To Qualify For 2026 W’Cup

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Newly appointed Super Eagles coach Finidi George has set his sights firmly on securing qualification for the 2026 World Cup, demanding unwavering commitment from his top players as the team aims to get their faltering qualifying campaign back on track.
Unveiled to the media in Abuja on Monday, Finidi, who succeeded the outgoing Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro, wasted no time in laying out his immediate priorities, two crucial 2026 World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Benin early next month.
“Nigeria comes first, that’s what I expect from every player I invite. You have to be playing in your club, and you must have the commitment,” Finidi told reporters on Monday.
Recognising the importance of a strong start, the former Ajax winger emphasised the significance of the upcoming clash against South Africa.
“The first targets are to qualify for the World Cup and AFCON (Africa Cup of Nations), and a win over South Africa will set the tone.”
Nigeria currently finds itself in third place in their qualifying group, with just two points from as many games, while South Africa sits second with three points.
Finidi, who has signed a year’s contract with an option for an additional year, acknowledged the immense pressure that comes with leading the national team of a country with over 200 million people.
However, he exuded confidence in his ability to withstand the scrutiny, stating, “I have a tough skin.”
While his salary remains undisclosed, the 53-year-old coach expressed a willingness to prioritise performance over immediate financial rewards.
“The salary is good enough for me, it’s not as much as that of (Jose) Peseiro.
“Money is good, but if you add value to what you do, the money will come. Then they can come and ask ‘Coach, how much do you want?” Finidi said.

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I’m Not Under Pressure, I’ve Tough Skin – Finidi

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New Super Eagles Coach, Finidi George, has underlined that the word pressure is not in his dictionary and appealed for support from key stakeholders including the media.
Speaking after his unveiling yesterday in Abuja, the former Enyimba of Aba coach said; “In life you cannot be afraid. As you see me here, I am a quiet person but I’m not afraid of anything. The worst you can get in football is not getting the result, the best you can get is winning all the time, and I will try my best to make sure that the team functions properly and we start winning games.”
On whether is under pressure to justify his appointment, the coach stressed; “Pressure, I don’t think I have it. I have that tough skin and I want to plead you guys, the media we need your support.
“What is in the contract is boldly written, what the NFF wants and Nigeria in general, but for me personally my first target is to make sure we are in line to qualify for the World Cup. AFCON qualifiers definitely will be coming up soon, but the major step for me is these two games that we have.
“If we can win against South Africa and Benin, we will set the tone.”
During the unveiling ceremony, the NFF confirmed that ex-Super Eagles striker; Daniel Amokachi and Abiden Baruwa will be the assistant coach and goalkeeper coach respectively.
The first assignment for Finidi, who won the Champions League with Ajax in 1995, is to qualify for the 2026 World Cup.

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Amusan Becomes World’s Fastest Woman, Sets New Track Record

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Nigerian sprint icon Tobi Amusan has become the world’s fastest woman in the women’s 100m hurdles after running a world-leading 12.40 seconds.
In a thrilling race, the world record holder secured the victory, leaving behind Danielle Williams, the world champion, who clocked her best time of the season at 12.46 seconds. Following closely was American Christina Clemons, claiming the third spot with a time of 12.54 seconds.
This triumph means the Nigerian athlete has now claimed the top spot globally, surpassing American Tonea Marshall’s previous record of 12.42 seconds set in late April.
Tobi Amusan’s impressive win arrives just two months before the Paris 2024 Olympics, setting the stage for an exciting competition ahead.
John Enoh, the minister of sports development, on his X handle congratulated Amusan over the feat.
Take your flowers Tobi Amusan, you stormed to an emphatic win in the women’s 100m hurdles at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational, clocking a time of 12.40s (0.9), a World Lead time!
You defeated World Champion Danielle Williams, who came 2nd in 12.46s, while Christina Clemons.
“Take your flowers Tobi Amusan, you stormed to an emphatic win in the women’s 100m hurdles at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational, clocking a time of 12.40s (0.9), a World Lead time! You defeated World Champion Danielle Williams, who came 2nd in 12.46s, while Christina Clemons was 3rd in 12.54s,” he wrote.
“Tobi, you keep making our country proud. Paris Olympics is around the corner, your performance gives us hope just like others, that Nigeria is set to break a jinx. Keep soaring, we are proud of you.”

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