Nigeria makes comeback in Taekwondo for 2020 Olympics

Elizabeth Anyanacho

Nigeria will be returning to the taekwondo event of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan after Elizabeth Anyanacho clinched the country’s first ticket at the African Qualification tournament in Rabat Morocco during the weekend.

This comes eight years after its last appearance at the London Olympics in 2020.

The 20-year old Statistics undergraduate of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) becomes the second female Nigerian to compete at the Olympic Games after Princess Dudu’s qualification for the Athens 2004 in Greece.

To confirm her place in Tokyo, the 2019 African Games bronze medalist defeated a five-time continental medalist, Gabon’s Urgence Mouega, who was a former African Champion.

However, Nigeria’s Benjamin Okuomose failed to clinch the Olympic ticket after narrowly losing 17 – 19 to former World Champion and Olympic Silver medalist, Gabon’s Anthony Obame.

The Nigerian had defeated Mozambique’s Itai Samuel Epitie10-0 in the opening round before the semi-finals defeat to Obame.

In the bronze medal match against Kenya’s Newton Maliro Nambani, Benjamin Okuomose beat the Kenyan 27 – 2 to win the bronze medal.

The bronze medal winner is on stand-by in case of any doping infractions by the eventual finalists.

Taekwondo is one of the five sports to have won medal at the Olympics for Nigeria after Chika Chukwumerije claimed the bronze at Beijing 2008 in China.

At the pre-tournament head of team meeting, organisers confirmed that only finalists will clinch the Olympic tickets to Tokyo, and finals matches would not be held given the non-significance of the finals match.

105 athletes from 35 countries are currently battling for 16 Olympic tickets for the world’s most prestigious sporting event, with eight of those Olympic tickets already earned on day one of the qualification tournament.

For the Taekwondo event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, there are a total of 128 slots available to be secured – 120 for qualification places, four for the hosts – Japan and four Tripartite Commission invitation places.