Ukoro, Balogun deliver gold for Nigeria at AWC

By Emeka Dennar

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Photo: NWF
Photo: NWF

Peter Ukoro handed Nigeria a surprise gold medal in the 55kg Greco-Roman event for cadet wrestlers on Day 1 of the 2018 African Wrestling Championships in Port Harcourt.

The youngster from Bauchi State defeated Omar Adel Abdelazi of Egypt, 4-0 in the final.

“I feel very glad and happy about it,” he said, after his victory.

“It was awesome but enjoyable because Greco-Roman is enjoyable to me.

“I feel very glad and by the grace of God, I know I can be the best.”

Lu Shawn Leonico KOK of South Africa settled for bronze after overcoming Namibia’s Linus Katujanda, 4-0.

In the 60kg weight class, Ikechukwu Robinson of Team Nigeria won bronze after subduing Tunisia’s Medhi Dheker 8-0 while Ahmed Merikhi of Algeria won gold in that class by beating Zeyad Emadeldin Helmi Yakout of Egypt, 8-3.

In Women’s Wrestling (WW), Sunmisola Balogun also wrote her name in gold, beating Natasha Nabaina of Cameroon, 5-4 in the final of the 65kg, to hand Team Nigeria their second gold medal of the day.

Balogun came from behind to secure victory in a keenly contested encounter.

Meanwhile, Aina Ohida overcame Farida Arabi 5-4 to land bronze in the 49kg weight category while Zineb Ech Charki of Morocco claimed the gold medal after defeating Egyptian Fatem Ahmed 5-5 by criteria.

In the 43kg, Esther Asaolu also won another bronze for Nigeria to increase her medal tally to five.

“I tried my best to win the gold but unfortunately I couldn’t,” Asaolu said.

“I thank God for helping me win gold for my country.”

By virtue of their performance, the like of Balogun, Asaolu and Ohida have qualified for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina later this year.

Speaking on the development, President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF), Daniel Igali said the athletes are on the verge of achieving the target set by the federation.

“I think they did well, all the athletes wrestled with a lot of guts,” he said.

“We have four Olympic slots from the cadet girls. That’s unbelievable.

“I remember the last time we were able to go with one girl to the (Youth) Olympics.

“We have set a target of achieving about five or six slots, and it looks like we are on course.”

Action continues on Thursday with more cadet and junior wrestlers taking to the mat. The competition ends on Sunday, February 11, 2018.

© NWF

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