By Sedara Philip
A contingent of five weightlifters and two coaches will on Wednesday depart Nigeria for Tunisia for the 2023 Africa Weightlifting Championship
The championship which starts from May 11 through 20 will also serve as 2024 Paris Olympic Qualifier.
In a release signed by the Media Officer of Nigeria Weightlifing Federation, NWF, Mr Amaechi Agbo, the Nigeria Weightlifing contingent will depart Nigeria via Qatar Airways at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos by 6pm Wednesday
The athletes are made up of three females and two males in five categories.
The male athletes are: 2022 Commonwealth bronze medallist, Umoafia Edidiong Joseph 73kg and Akano Desmond 89kg in men category
The three females include: 2022 Commonwealth gold medal winners, Lawal Rafiatu 59kg and Olarinoye Adenike Adijat 59kg while Eze Joy Ogbonne in 71kg completes Nigeria’s trio in women category.
The weightlifters will be led by two coaches, Omogbai Tina Nnenna and Ayodabo Kehinde
The athletes have been camped at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Lagos since April.
Nigeria last qualified for weightlifting Olympics event in 2012 London Games where Mariam Usman won bronze medal.
With Nigeria’s excellent performances at global, continental and national competitions in recent times, Nigeria Weightlifing Federation, NWF President, Dr Ibrahim Abdul has expressed optimism that the weightlifters will get the ticket for 2024 Olympics.
Dr Abdul who bemoaned Nigeria’s last-minute non-qualification for Tokyo 2020 Olympics due to COVID-19 pandemic, stated that the federation is leaving no stones unturned in ensuring Nigeria’s participation in weightlifting event at the Paris 2024.
“The athletes have been in camp for some weeks now and we are doing everything we can within our reach to ensure that they perform well in Tunisia.
“The championship in Tunisia is one of the Olympic qualifiers we need to participate to pick tickets for the Games.
“We missed out in 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Not because we were not ready but due to the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted human activities.
“This time around, I have full confidence in our athletes. They are world champions and the 2022 National Sports Festival in Asaba in December last year was a great outing for our lifters,” he said