By: Sunny Canto
Nigeria Weightlifters who has camped for five weeks at MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja left today afternoon from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja ahead of their competition in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to take part in the 2023 IWF Championship.
However, the world event that is billed from Monday, September 4th-17th September, will also serves as the 2024 Paris Olympic Games qualifier.
Interestingly, the 'Giant of Africa' athletes with eagles eye and lion heart is consist of six lifters and three officials for Nigeria which is made up of two men and four women.
Olarinoye Adenike Adijat 59kg, Eze Joy Ogbonne 71kg, Lawal Rafiat Folashade 59kg, Edidiong Joseph Umoafia 73kg, Desmond Akano 89kg, Ayodele Ruth Imolede 64kg will be looking forward to France 2024 Olympic qualification.
Speaking to journalist, the Nigeria Weightlifting Federation President, told us "We're up to the task because our athletes are naturally born champions and they're not under pressure" he affirm.
"Our target is to qualify for the Olympics, break the 1996 jinx as well as return home with some medals having trained for weeks" he added.
According competition schedules released by the IWF, Folashade Lawal and Adijat Olarinoye, who both won three gold and three silver medals respectively at the 2023 Senior Africa Weightlifting Championship in Tunisia in May this year, will compete in the 59kg women’s category on 7th September by 11.30am
Edidiong Umofia will compete in the 73kg men’s category on 8th September by 12noon while Akano Desmond will take his turn in the 89kg men’s category two days later, on 10th by 9.30am
Ayodele Ruth and Eze Joy Ogbenne will compete in the 64kg and 71kg women’s categories on the 10th by 2:30pm and 7:30pm same day, respectively.
Nigeria had a glorious outing in their first Olympic Games qualifying race in Tunisia four months ago when five athletes amassed 12 medals at the 2023 Senior Africa Weightlifting Championship in Tunisia, which also served as 2024 Olympic Games.
Also, the 2023 IWF Championship has a registered 117 participating countries with 719 lifters made up of 365 men and 354 women.
Nigeria weightlifters will participate in more three championship qualifiers as they seek to return the country to the global weightlifting map in the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris, France.
In summary, with the assurance form both Coaches during a Media chat with Press men, daily motivation and visitation by the NWF boss, adequate medical care, allowances, welfare provided; the sky only can be their limit.