African and Commonwealth Games champion, Odunayo Adekuoroye secured her place at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan after making it to the semifinal stage of the women’s 57kg of freestyle event at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships holding in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
However, Blessing Onyebuchi was unlucky in the 72kg as she was beaten 10-7 by Japan’s Hiroe Suzuki in the first round.
Seeded number three in her weight category, Adekuoroye started her campaign against Vietnam’s Thi My Trang Nguyen with a convincing 10-0 win in the round of 32. She also had another 10-0 win over France’s Mathilde Riviere in the last 16 bout. Despite the tough resistance of North Korea’s In Sun Jong in the quarter finals, Adekuoroye won 12-2.
With top six in each weight category granted a place in the Olympics, Adekuoroye becomes the first Nigerian wrestler to book her place at Tokyo Olympics.
In the women’s 68kg, Blessing Oborududu will battle Italy’s Dalma Caneva in the round of 32, while Aminat Adeniyi will square up against India’s Sakshi Malik in the 62kg of women freestyle today.
In the semifinal tie, Adekuoroye lost to Japan’s Risako Kawai 6-1 and will battle for the bronze medal today.
It was a painful loss for Onyebuchi who led 7-0 but a wrong decision toward the end of the bout gave her diminutive Japanese opponent victory.
President of Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF), Daniel Igali said the performance of the wrestlers was impressive, stating that the federation would ensure the mistakes noticed are corrected in order to secure more slots in wrestling for Tokyo 2020.
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“I am not really disappointed with the performance of the athletes because they gave a good account of themselves. We have noticed some mistakes and we are hoping to correct them so that more of our wrestlers can book places from the continental qualifying tournament next year,” Igali opined.
Odunayo Adekuoroye, 25, is regarded as one of the finest wrestlers in the world and the most consistent wrestler in Nigeria and Africa having become the first Nigerian to medal in all her three appearances at the World Championships including gold medals at Commonwealth Games in Scotland and Australia.