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Budding athletes setting tone for Tokyo 2020 Games



Budding athletes setting tone for Tokyo 2020 Games

Nigeria is blessed with so much talent all over the world in all sports disciplines. Divine Oduduru, 22, has been on the rampage in the past few weeks for the right reasons. Oduduru has been explosive on the tracks running sub-10 and sub-20 seconds in the 100m and 200m in the same competition. He recorded 9.94 seconds and 9.99 seconds respectively in the new athletics season during the collegiate events for Texas Tech University.


He is an athlete the country should nurture to be great for Olympic Games medals in years to come starting from Tokyo 2020. He also recorded 19.76 seconds to emerge as the current fastest man in the 200m. Today, he is one of the fastest men in the world for 100m.


He is third behind Noah Lyles of USA with 9.86 seconds and Christian Coleman also of USA with 9.86 seconds. And so, efforts should be made to make Oduduru even better than he is at the moment. Another athlete, Tobi Amusan of University of Texas El Paso, is on the rise. Also 22, she has qualified for the Olympic Games with her sub-13 seconds recorded in the 100m hurdles event also at the collegiate games in the USA. Amusan has been consistent over the years with gold medals won at African and Commonwealth Games levels respectively.


With her 12.73 seconds personal best, she is currently among the top 10 hurdlers in the world. Oduduru and Amusan deserve attention, proper monitoring and mentoring to get to the top. A wrestler, Oduayo Adekuoroye, 25, has been consistent in the past few years for Nigeria. She has won laurels at African and global stage. She is currently ranked number 4 in the world in her freestyle wrestling category.


She won gold at the German Grand Prix and was voted the best female wrestler at the African Senior Wrestling Championship which took place in Tunisia. Adekuoroye is also a potential Olympic medallist if well nurtured for the forthcoming Tokyo Games. Table tennis star, Aruna Quadri, is 30 years old but he has the potential to clinch an Olympic medal in the games next year. At the 2016 games in Brazil, he emerged the very first African to feature in the quarter-finals of the table tennis event. In football, the talents are everywhere.


The dramatic 4-0 victory Nigeria recorded over Libya in the recent U-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier was enough indication. Victor Oshimen who scored three goals in that match is on the rise. At club level, he scored 18 goals and four assists in all competitions for Charleroi in the Belgian top division this season. This is a huge feat and the guy is on his way to Egypt with the Super Eagles.


There is also Samuel Chukwueze who has shown so much promise in La Liga with Villarreal. He registered five goals in the league and eight goals in all competitions with three assists for the team. Chukwueze was in blistering form against Barcelona in a La Liga match as he recorded a goal and registered one assist in the 4-4 draw recorded in that match. He is also on the train to Egypt for AFCON. Oshimen and Chukwueze will be great for Nigeria’s quest to qualify and pick a medal in the football event of the Tokyo Olympic Games. However, the two young footballers deserve attention and mentoring.


The Nigeria Football Federation and coach Gernot Rohr will have to figure that out how best to take these players to the top in the interest of the country. These two youngsters are among the best performers of Nigeria in the just concluded football season in Europe. They deserve to be closely monitored with their transfer and progress so that they can play in the UEFA Champions League to boost the country’s profile in the game. Henry Onyekuru (21) and Paul Onuachu (24) also did great in Turkey and Denmark respectively. Onyekuru scored 14 goals while Onuachu scored 19 goals in all competitions.


These are future prospects that could break the jinx of not winning the Africa Footballer of the Year award since 22 years ago. But so much work will have to be done. The Ministry of Sports is yet to come out with a sports policy that will enable stakeholders to know the next step or move for budding athletes but this is necessary now that so many talents abound. As usual, the preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games is zero and it is important to encourage promising athletes across all sports to be at their best for the event and subsequent global meets after it.

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