Some of the best fighters in the world on Friday converge at the Abuja National Stadium for the maiden Nigeria International Taekwondo Open.
The technical official from the World Taekwondo (WT) as well as international referees from Egypt, United Kingdom (UK), Senegal,, Niger Republic and Cote d’Ivoire are already on ground for the event billed to take place until Sunday.
The tournament sanctioned by the World Taekwondo (WT) is a ranking event with players aiming for world ranking points in their quest to garner enough points to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
152 taekwondists from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Congo DRC, France, Gabon, Ghana, Guadeloupe, Mali, Niger Republic, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Togo, US and host – Nigeria will compete in the 16 Olympic weight categories.
According to the Technical Director of the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF), Chika Chukwumerije, the stage is set for the tournament which received the backing of the South Korea-based world taekwondo ruling body as modern equipment donated by the world body would be deployed for the three-day championship.
Speaking ahead of the tournament, Nigeria’s national coach, John Victor, admonished that the local athletes should use the tournament to improve their rating.
“Like other countries who have hosted a ranked tournament, our athletes now have a golden opportunity to be ranked at World Taekwondo level,” Victor told the media team of the NTF.
“I would say big kudos to the Federation, especially the Technical Director and the Chairman of the Technical and Development Committee, Sani Lawal.
“I think that some of the athletes do not really understand the importance of the tournament. Additionally, the paucity of funds is not helping matters. Nonetheless, the practical way out is for masters and instructors to educate athletes on the importance of the tournament.
“Taekwondo is a martial arts, where the masters influence the students. This is why it is important for them to play this role.
He added: “I will strongly encourage them that they should do all that they can to help their athletes achieve their goals. It is our tournament in the country, let us join hands and win it all, and have fun doing it.”