Nigerians currently dominating the different weight categories of Para-taekwondo in Africa say they are determined to excel at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, where the sport would make debut.
Smarting from their victorious outing at the 2017 Para-taekwondo Championships in Kigali, Rwanda, Faith Obazuaye and Samson Ukpera said that they were ready for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Obazuaye in Class K44 (-58kg) female, and Ukpera in K-42 (-61kg) male, won gold medals at the championships in Kigali.
The Africa Taekwondo Union (ATU) organised championships, hosted by the Rwanda Taekwondo Federation, had 25 countries will compete from April 1 to April 2.
The International Paralympics Committee (IPC) has announced that 20 sports will feature in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games with badminton and Taekwondo included for the first time.
Obazuaye said her target was to take advantage of the recognition of para-taekwondo to prove her ability and win medal at global games.
She said that her determination to excel had compelled her to be committed to regular training for the Games.
“I see myself as an athlete that will celebrate my country at the Paralympics, even with my physical challenge which has made me special in the sport.
“I participated and won gold in the maiden ATU championships in Egypt last year; I didn’t relax because I know I still have many hurdles to overcome to qualify for Paralympics,” she said.
The double African para-taekwondo female champion commended the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation for its support, noting that it made possible her featuring in the competition.
“The encouragement I got was too much, I give credit for it to our president, George Ashiru and Saidu Abdullahi, a board member for being there for us in Kigali,” she added.
For Ukpera, who won a silver medal in the 2016 edition, he is happy for another opportunity in the 2nd edition to hit the target he missed last year.
He said the gold medal at the championships would boost his ranking and boost his chances for qualification to represent the country at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“Last year, I got silver, but this year gold, meaning that I am improving, which is what is expected of me to boost my world ranking to feature in the Paralympics.
“The federation has really done well for us, making sure that we take part in the championships and I feel more excited because we brought honour to the country,” he said.
Para-Taekwondo specifically refers to a type of Sport-style in which competition rules have been established in order to accommodate fair competitions among athletes with disabilities, specifically within the Paralympic Games.
Source: Voice of Nigeria