Anyanacho’s Olympic dream ends in tears, as Chukwumerije eyes Paris 2024

*Sports Minister endears himself to Team Nigeria athletes

Elizabeth Anyanacho suffered a blow in her quest for an Olympic medal in the early hours of Monday against a much matured and experienced double Olympic medallist and World champion, Nur Tartar of Turkey in the women’s 67kg category of the taekwondo event at the Tokyo Olympics

Tartar showed class and applied experience winning 12 – 7 against the Nigerian debutant who proved that the future belongs to her with a performance that stunned many who could not believe she was fighting in her first Olympics.

The defeat left the 22-year-old Anyanacho gutted and she could not help but to succumb to tears.

Sports Minister Sunday Dare and former Olympian, Chika Chukwumerije were on hand to console her.

A flicker of hope rose for the Nigerian from the rule books to get a chance to fight again if her conqueror gets to the final. That hope, though, did not last long as the Turk was kicked out by an American who was menacing all through handing her a bitter defeat without a point.

Howevrr, Chukwumerije, a 2008 Olympic Games bronze medallist in taekwondo, who has been the driving seat of Anyanacho’s meteoric rise in the sport, was not totally disappointed with her loss.

“She’s been crying. That shows she badly needed victory,” he said. “In all, her target is now focused for Paris. Between now and three years, she would matured. She has gotten an Olympic experience,” added Chukwumerije, referring to the 2024 Olympics taking place in the French capital.

Chukwumerije himself lost his first Olympics outing in Athens in 2004 but came back smoking in Beijing four years later, kicking his way to a bronze medal.

“Same thing happened to me.  I fell into depression after my first loss but luckily, she has people guiding her. It’s a big stage and she has all it takes to now put this defeat behind and show what she has,” Chukwumerije said.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Minister of Youth, Sports, and Social Development Sunday Dare has become a beacon of hope to Team Nigeria athletes at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics in Japan.

The energetic Sports Minister has shown his passion since stepping into the Land of the Rising Sun, ensuring that he watches and cheers Nigerian athletes in their events.

In most cases, he’s the lone voice armed with his Green-White-Green flag, urging the athletes on.

The past 24 hours of the Olympics was not a particularly good one for Team Nigeria with her athletes losing out in their respective events, from taekwondo to table tennis, and gymnastics. The Minister has, however, remained stoically behind the athletes, bringing to fore Henry Ford’s saying that failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.

At Elizabeth Anyanacho’s fight, where she lost 12-7 to Nur Tartar of Turkey, the Minister hailed her courage for a debutant in the Olympics to fight with so much vim and vitality.

“You’ve done well against a world champion. Keep your focus. The world will soon rise to salute you in the near future,” he was heard telling the 22-year-old taekwondoist after her loss.

When Nigeria’s remaining competitor in the women’s table tennis single’s event Offiong Edem lost, Dare was on hand to console her saying, “you exhibited strength and talent. Nigeria thanks you for making the country proud at the Olympics.”

Amid the tumultuous Tokyo Olympics greatly affected by Covid-19, where athletes have seen their training and competition schedules affected and fans shut out from events, Sports Minister Dare has brought so much hope and confidence to Nigerian athletes.

No doubt, Team Nigeria can never forget the importance of discipline, athlete’s welfare priority brought by Dare and the importance of connecting us as a people and building a winning culture of communication, trust and teamwork.




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