Minister of Youth and Sports Development Chief Sunday Dare has described Bayelsa State as the ‘wrestling industry’ of the country following its tradition of producing great talents and champions over the years.
The Minister stated this at the closing ceremony of the just-concluded 1st Gov. Diri National Wrestling Classics in Yenagoa – the Bayelsa State capital – on Tuesday.
Last year, Bayelsa –born Blessing Oborududu became the first-ever Nigerian wrestler to win an Olympic medal, grabbing a silver medal in the 68kg class at the Tokyo 2020 Games in Japan.
The 10-African champion Oborududu followed the footsteps of fellow Bayelsan and Nigeria Wresting Federation (NWF) President Hon. Daniel Igali, who won an Olympic gold medal for Canada at the Sydney 2000 Games, having previously represented Nigeria at different international competitions.
“The wrestling glory of our country Nigeria is planted solidly in Bayelsa State,” the Sports Minister, who was the Special Guest at the event, noted. “We have seen our stars come from the nooks and crannies of this state.
“We have seen this state attract some great talents from across the country, and the Gov. Diri National Classics is a testimony to that fact that Bayelsa State is the wrestling industry for Nigeria.
“I want to thank all the athletes that have taken part in this 5-day event.”
While lauding Bayelsa State Governor Sen. Douye Diri for his continuous investment in wrestling and other sports, Sunday Dare expressed confidence that the champions at the tournament will go ahead to give Nigeria quality representation at the 2022 African Championships in Morocco later this month and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
“I’m confident that from here we will select those that will represent us in two weeks’ time at the African Championships in Morocco and also those that will eventually fly our flag at the Commonwealth Games in July,” he said.
“Let me also go on record to appreciate the commitment of His Excellency Governor Diri of Bayelsa State to sports development and in the state and also in Nigeria, especially his investment in wrestling and the hosting of the 1st Gov. Diri National Wrestling Classics. He has followed in the tradition of his predecessors.”