Inside the Games
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Dr Daniel Igali, President, Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) has identified inadequate structures and poor funding as the major factors impeding sports development in the country.

Igali made the remark in an interview with sports journalists in Yenagoa on Thursday.

He, however, applauded the performance of the country’s wrestlers at the just concluded world wrestling championships in Paris.

He described the performance of the athletes as the “most successful” in the history of the country.

He said that out of the six wrestlers – two males and four female – that featured at the Paris event, three of the ladies ended up in the top ten.

Igali expressed happiness that the Nigerian team finished tenth on the medals table.

The wrestling federation president, who is also the Chairman, House Committee on sports in the Bayelsa House of Assembly, stressed the need for adequate preparation of athletes ahead of global championships.

According to him, the country needs to focus attention on major sporting events such as the African, commonwealth and Olympic Games to improve the performance of Nigerian athletes.

“For you to do well at the Olympics, you must go to tournaments and win.

“There is need for our wrestlers to go to the world championships three years before the Olympic Games for them to win gold medals.

“We need to improve structures and systems, because this is the reason for the poor performance of our athletes in some major sporting competitions,” Igali said.

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On the 2018 African Wrestling Championship, the NWF president explained that with no cadet team currently on ground in the country, it would be difficult to replace aging wrestlers regularly.

“Having won the hosting rights for the 2018 African Championships to be held in Port Harcourt, Rivers, we have a huge task on our shoulders.

“Two new weight categories were approved at the last African Wrestling Championships in Morocco, bringing the total to ten now instead of eight that previously existed.

“We now have to create a cadet team comprising 12 athletes each in the female, free style and graeco roman categories.

“That is 36 national team members for just those within the age range of 15 and 17 years.

“Another 30 athletes – that is ten each in the three categories for the juniors 18 to 20 years and also another 30 for the senior level.

“So, we are talking about 90 national team members for Nigeria at the 2018 African championships.

“This is an opportunity for the country to get it right in the sport and I believe we will move to somewhere.

“About 42 countries are expected to take part in the fiesta in Nigeria next year, we have much to be done to ensure successful hosting of the championships.

“We are going to be having tournaments and all round camping to enable the athletes learn new techniques,” he said.

The last edition of the championships was hosted in April 2017 in Marrakesh, Morocco where Team Nigeria won eight gold and three silver medals.

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