Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja
The President of the Nigeria Judo Federation (NJF) Oshodi Musa, says Nigeria will not rate athletes with past performances to represent the country in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, London.
About 14 athletes will be selected based on available funds from the ministry of youths and sports and the Nigeria Olympic Committee(NOC).
Musa, in a two-day trial hosting about 124 athletes in the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, disclosed that the participants were drawn from different organisations, universities, States, and clubs.
The President emphasised that the aim of putting the trials together is to get the best from the lot that will go out to represent the nation on the international stage.
He added that after the trials have been concluded, those who are certified qualified will be taken to the camp for further training in preparation for the 2022 Commonwealth games.
Musa said, “My expectation after these trials is to have a team that can be up to the task, a team that can wrestle with their colleagues at the international level.
“The team that will make Nigeria proud and that is why immediately after this tournament we are taking those that emerge as winners into camp for further training.
“We don’t want to rely on past performances of athletes. This trial has witnessed the biggest turnout in the history of Judo in the federation,” he added.
The NJF President said that the number of Judokas in Nigeria instigated the body’s resolve to organise the trials to serve as a guide in picking the best athletes in performances and fitness for the upcoming Commonwealth games.
According to Musa, such practices of including the names of athletes after they may have been disqualified is also among the several reasons the trials were deemed necessary to take place.
He said, “Presently, our plan is to take about 14 athletes to the Commonwealth Games but that will be determined by funds available from the Ministry and Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC).
“Nigeria has what it takes to have enough Judokas to make us proud. It is even difficult to choose from the last fight, whereby you have already ruled someone out, and then the next minute the person comes around.
“That is why I insisted that this trial must be held in order for us to determine individuals’ fitness and performance,” he added.
Furthermore, Musa reiterated that the trials will also serve as a guide to help the NJF categorise the athletes according to the competitions and also help in giving the participants the appropriate training.
According to NAN, the NJF categorised the women in 48kg, 52kg, 57kg, 63kg, 70kg, and 78kg while the men in 60kg, 66kg, 73kg, 81kg, 90kg, and 100kg.
NJF President said that before the Commonwealth competitions kick start, there are a lot of competitions in which the judokas will partake, and with these trials, the NJC can easily go to the stock and pick the best to represent Nigeria.
Musa said, “This trial is not only meant for the Commonwealth Games, but it also serves as a pool for us to determine the judokas that will be going for international meets.
“If we are talking about a particular category we know the person we need to train for such a competition.
“This is also for our international exploits, not only for Commonwealth Games, we have some international competition before Commonwealth, so we know that we have capable judokas that will be representing the country,” he said.
The Commonwealth games, fixed to take place between July 28 and August 8, is expected to host about 5054 athletes from 72 Commonwealth nations around the world that will participate in 283 events in 20 sports.