THE three-time Olympic medalist and Chika Chukwumerije has called for early preparations ahead of the All Africa Games (AAG).The Games are scheduled to hold in Congo Brazzaville from September 4 to September 20.
A statement released in Lagos on Tuesday by the Taekwondo Federation of Nigeria (TFN), noted that Chukwumerije, also an TFN Board Member, made the call, after observing progress being made by other African rivals.
The former top Taekwondoist was at the just-concluded AFTU International Taekwondo Open and Luxor Open held in Egypt.
At the G-1 ranked AFTU Open, Tunisia won three medals – 2 gold and silver; Cote d’Ivoire won two medals – gold, bronze; Morocco two medals – a silver and bronze, while hosts, Egypt won 8 medals – 3 silver and 5 bronze medals.
Ruth Gbagbi of Cote d’Ivoire had won gold in the women -62kg, Ben Ali Rahma of Tunisia, gold in the women’s 53kg.
Tunisian man Queslati Oussama, won a gold in the -80kg category after dramatically beating a five-time World Champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Steven Lopez of U.S. in the semi-finals en route to the gold medal victory.
At the G-2 ranked Luxor Open, Tunisia won two medals – gold and two silver; Egypt, two medals – gold and bronze, while Cote d’Ivoire won two medals – silver and bronze.
It said that Chukwumerije was not only impressed at the medals won, but also at how they were won.
“Morocco came with two athletes to the AFTU open, and won two medals, Cote d’Ivoire with three athletes, won two medals and again won two medals at Luxor Open.
“The Ivoirien Cheick Sallah Cisse had beaten Steven Lopez of U.S., a 5-time World Champion and 2-time Olympic Gold Medallist. He had also beaten established veteran, Damon Sansum of U.K. just before the finals.
“Tunisia also came with a same team and repeated the same feat, destroying top ranked competitors en route to their victories,’’ the statement quoted Chukwumerije.
“We are going to meet these people in six months time at the AAG, and they are competing all over the world, gaining crucial experience and confidence as they conquer the world’s best at these events.
“I am confident that Nigerian Taekwondo will be capable of standing up to them on the field of play, but we must start firm preparations now to stand a chance of making history at the Africa games”.