By Millicent Ifeanyichukwu
Sunday Dare, Minister of Youths and Sports Development, has paid an unscheduled visit to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics-bound Elizabeth Anyanacho, in the Special Olympics fight camp, in Abuja.
This is in continuation of the minister’s visits to the country’s athletes preparatory to the Olympics Games.
This is contained in a statement by Chika Chukwumerije, the Technical Director of Nigeria Taekwondo Federation and issued to newsmen on Tuesday in Lagos.
Chukwumerije said that 22-year-old Anyanacho, the first Nigerian woman to qualify for the Olympics in Taekwondo in 16 years, was currently battling with six other national champions in a special olympic fight camp, set up to boost her preparations.
According to him, Dare, who has been visiting Olympic athletes in various qualified sports, dropped by the camp today, to observe first hand, the training and encourage the Olympic-bound Anyanacho and other athletes.
He said the minister had expressed satisfaction at the high level of training observed and promised to support the preparations of Anyanacho toward the goal of a podium finish in Tokyo.
“I am happy with the intensity and level of training that I have seen here today.
“I want to assure Anyanacho that, inspite of the constraint of resources expressed in recent times, the sports ministry will extend all possible support to ensure she achieves her podium dream in Tokyo.
”I want to also applaud the national champions that came for the special camp and I want you all to present a formidable resistance to Anyanacho, to further aid her preparations.
“I thank all the national champions here today, your role is important, I want you to train hard and help Anyanacho prepare, so when she gets to Tokyo, she will be ready for her Olympic opponents,” he said.
According to him, the minister promised that support for all athletes will not end with the Tokyo Olympics.
Other national champions present at the special Olympic training fight camp organised by Olympic medalist, Chukwumerije, included African Champion, Uzoamaka Otuadinma and African bronze medalists, Juliet Dennis.
Others are national athletes, Helen Okoko, Judith Usifoh, Peter Itiku and Ifeoluwa Ajayi.
Chukwumerije added that after the visit and words of encouragement by the minister, the Olympic first-timer, Anyanacho lauded him for his thoughtfulness and presented souvenirs in appreciation.
“I thank the Honourable Minister for this surprise visit, it gives me a lot of confidence to know that the government and the people of Nigeria are behind my preparations.
“I will keep working hard with my technical crew to make a positive impact at the Tokyo Olympics,” she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Anyanacho, who is the second ever Nigerian female to qualify in Taekwondo for the Olympics, would be competing at the Tokyo Olympics on July 26 in the female -67kg category. (NAN)