19th National Sports Festival: Rivers takes charge of taekwondo

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With seven gold medals in its kitty, Rivers State emerged as the overall winner of the taekwondo event at the 19th National Sports Festival holding in Abuja.

From the start of the event, Kano State dominated taekwondo having amassed four gold medals from the poomsae (demonstration) but when the kyorugi (fighting) began, it was Rivers all the way with the South South state mopping seven gold medals to be adjudged the best in the event.

Kano managed to add one gold medal in the kyorugi event to increase their gold to five as the second placed team in the event. With a pantry two gold medals, Lagos State finished third overall.

However, the Technical Director of the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF), Chika Chukwumerije has expressed optimism that with the display of the athletes, there is hope for the country at the 2019 African Games in Morocco.

The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games bronze medalist watched proceedings at the festival with special interest in junior athletes who were medalists at the last African Youth Games in Algeria.

“I think we have prospect from what I saw in Abuja. We can confidently say that Nigeria is sure of good outing in the next African Games. We just need to brush up the athletes before the games and they can spring surprise against any team in the team. I am impressed with what I saw and we hope we can get some of them into camping for the games early next year,” Chukwumerije said.

For the president of NTF, Margret Binga, the festival has afforded the athletes to build confidence ahead of bigger events outside the country.

“When opportunities are given to all and there is a level playing ground, you build confidence. Here at the National Sports Festival, we have seen record being set and broken as well as upsets. We have seen that the coaches in the grassroots are really doing a lot and this has built the confidence on the home-based athletes that were given the same platform to compete with our  elite athletes that were here to compete in the festival,” the NTF boss said.

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