Iran In ‘Shock’ Over Missing Female Olympic Medallist

In this file photo taken on August 26, 2016 Keivan Alizadeh (R) the father of Kimia Alizadeh who became the first Iranian woman ever to win an Olympic medal, shows her medal upon her arrival at Imam Khomeini International Airport in tcapital Tehran. peyman / ISNA / AFP

 

 

Concern mounted Thursday in Iran over the fate of the Islamic republic’s only woman to have won an Olympic medal, who is believed to want to settle in The Netherlands.

Kimia Alizadeh clinched a taekwondo bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, drawing praise from her compatriots including the country’s President Hassan Rouhani and even conservatives in the Islamic republic.

In keeping with Iran’s strict Muslim custom, Alizadeh, then 18, competed wearing a headscarf over her taekwondo uniform and protective gear.

There were high hopes she would compete at the Tokyo Olympics later this year and bring home another medal, but it appears this is not to be.

The semi-official ISNA news agency on Thursday carried a report saying: “Shock for Iran’s Taekwondo. Kimia Alizadeh has emigrated to The Netherlands.”

According to ISNA, the coach of the women’s national team said that Alizadeh is suffering from an injury.

It said Alizadeh did not show up for trials ahead of the Tokyo Games.

Isna and several other media believe that Alizadeh, who is reportedly training in The Netherlands, is hoping to compete in Tokyo but not under the Iranian flag.

A poor quality picture posted on the internet, and showing a woman who is believed to be Alizadeh without a headscarf and mixing with a group of young men and women, has sparked tens of thousands of comments.

And the hashtag #Kimia_Alizadeh was one of the most-shared Thursday on Twitter in Farsi.

Tansin news agency, which is close to ultra-conservative groups, questioned why the taekwondo federation and Alizadeh’s family “have not yet reacted to confirm or deny the stunning development” of her defection.

Iranian MP Abdolkarim Hosseinzadeh, meanwhile, demanded answers, accusing those he described as the “incompetent officials” of allowing Iran’s “human capital to flee” the country.

He drew a comparison between Alizadeh and Iranian chess prodigy Alireza Firouzja who won the grandmaster title at age 14, two years after winning the Iranian chess championship, and who now lives in France.

If Alizadeh fails to represent Iran at the Tokyo Olympics it would be a huge blow for the Islamic republic.

Along with judo, taekwondo is one of Iran’s sporting strengths.

Last year, the International Judo Federation suspended Iran from international competition over its refusal to allow its fighters to face judokas from Israel which the Islamic republic does not recognise.

WTF Sanctions Nigeria Taekwondo Open

A Taekwondo session in Zaria, Kaduna State. (file)

 

The second edition of the Nigeria Taekwondo International Open has been sanctioned by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF).

The world taekwondo ruling body also awarded a G-1 International ranking to the event which is scheduled to take place on November 16 to 18 in Abuja, Nigeria.

This will be the first taekwondo competition ever in Nigeria to have an international ranking, which was a priority for the current board of the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF).

Confirming the development, the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation Technical Director, Chika Chukwumerije, said the Taekwondo Community will benefit.

“The Federation worked very hard to get the approval from World Taekwondo through the African body, who duly approved after being satisfied that the event fulfils all World Taekwondo conditions. Despite being some of the top competitors on the continent, our athletes have literally no world ranking because they cannot afford to travel to compete. Thus by getting the event sanctioned, we would provide hundreds of our elite and upcoming athletes the opportunity to gain vital world ranking points and competitive experience with some of the best athletes in the world,” the three-time Olympian said.

Chairman of the NTF Technical and Development Committee, Sani Lawal, blamed the lack of G events for the dominance of other African countries over Nigeria at international events.

“Countries like Cote d’Ivoire have more than seven competitors in the high ranked Grand Slams series because their athletes have a lot of ranking from organizing G-ranked tournaments in Cote D’Ivoire since 2012. We can see the impact of these tournaments in the fact that they won an Olympic Gold and Bronze in Rio Olympics and World titles in 2017. So getting the Nigeria Open to be sanctioned by the World Taekwondo body is the way forward if Nigeria Taekwondo is to have players on the world stage,” Lawal said.

Over 100 Athletes Expected At National Junior Taekwondo Championship

Over 100 Athletes Expected At National Junior Taekwondo Championship

 

More than 100 athletes from 24 states are expected to participate in Nigeria’s first ever National Junior Taekwondo Championships.

The event, which is being organised by the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation, is scheduled on hold May 16 and 17 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

It aims to capture and rank the current youth taekwondo athletes while it discovers in-form young athletes and upcoming talents that would represent the country at the African Youth Games in Algeria.

According to the technical director and a three-time Olympian, Chika Chukwumerije, Nigeria Taekwondo is currently at difficult crossroads because of the lack of investment in the sport for the youth.

“Since its inauguration 40 years ago, the federation has never held youth-level championships, thus ensuring our inconsistency in produce elite athletes,” he said.

“This is why we win Olympic medals over two decades. By floating age-grade tournament like this and encouraging participation, the federation aims to make our medal winning at internationals a consistent feature.”

Chukwumerije further explained why the event would also be used to invite youth athletes to national youth camp.

He said it was fair that a transparent, effective and accountable method was used to extend invitations to youth camp, adding that the tournament removed all sentiments and ensured the initial selection were based on merit and current form.

Quizzed on why the venue was changed from Owerri in Imo to Abuja, the Chairman of the Technical Committee, Mr Sani Lawal, highlighted the uncertainty of the hosts.

He said, “This is the third time that we gave Owerri the opportunity to host but I think that there is internal bureaucracy that made it difficult for it to be hosted at the federation’s schedule.

“In any situation that a state can no longer host one of our scheduled events, the event will be held at the FCT, where the federation has its head office so that there will be minimal disruption to the federation calendar.”

On his part, Secretary-General of the Federation, Mr Yusuf Kabir, reiterated the readiness of the federation to host the tournament, saying all the logistics have been put in place to ensure a smooth event.

The National Youth Taekwondo Championships will feature the World Taekwondo 10 male and 10 female weight categories.

The electronic scoring systems would be used in addition to medals and certificates issued to winners.

NTF To Hold Junior Championships In January

The Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF) has fixed January 19, 2018, as the date for the Maiden National Junior Championships in Abuja.

NTF Technical Director, Chika Chukwumerije said winners of the tournament will join the champions of the 2017 National Youth Games for 10-day training camp.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medallist also revealed that the athletes will feature at the Junior World Championships, African youth games, African Junior Championships, and Youth Olympics.

The training camp has been scheduled to hold from January 21 to 31, 2018.

12 States Set For CCSF Taekwondo Prix Series III

Chukwumerije Suggests Proper Record Of Nigerian Taekwondists
(File Photo)

Taekwondists from twelve states will participate at the third edition of the Chika Chukwumerije Sports Foundation (CCSF) Prix series iii, which is scheduled to hold from September 8 to 9 in Abuja.

The Prix series seeks to develop athletes, coaches, and referees from the grassroots.

Over 120 grassroots athletes from Zamfara, Plateau, Ogun, Niger, Kebbi, Edo, Delta, Cross River, Borno, Benue, Abia and host state, Abuja will compete for the total prize money of N18 million, as well as medals and certificates from all medal winners.

The CCSF Prix series also uses a unique ranking system.

Akhilele Crashes Out Of World Taekwondo Championships

Akhilele Crashes Out Of World Taekwondo ChampionshipsNigeria’s Santos Akhilele on Monday crashed out at the ongoing World Taekwondo Championships in South Korea.

He became Nigeria’s second athlete to exit the competition despite winning his opening fight in the men’s – 68kg category earlier in the day.

Akhilele lost to an experienced Zelaya Andres of Guatemala 14 points to 16 points in his second fight.

Commonwealth gold medalist Josephine Esuku crashed out over the weekend losing to Azerbaijan’s Safiye Polat in the female’s – 46kg category.

Five taekwondists represented Nigeria at the championships in Muju County.

Taekwondo Championships: Nigeria To Know Opponents On Friday – WTF

TaekwondoThe World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) has confirmed that Nigeria will know their opponents at the 2017 World Championships holding in South Korea on Friday.

United States-based Isah Abubakar leads the men team that parades Edwin Samson, Santos Akhilele and Kolade Bright.

2015 African Games gold medalist Uzoamaka Otuadinma, Josephine Esuku and Chinazum Nwosu will feature in the women category.

Over 971 athletes from 183 countries have been registered to battle for honours at the championships.

Nigerian Air Force Engages Personnel In Combat Sports

Nigerian Air Force Engages Personnel In Combat SportsThe Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has described physical fitness as the cornerstone of military combat readiness in confronting insurgency.

Air Marshal Abubakar stressed the need for personnel to maintain a high level of combat readiness, through constant training and keeping fit always.

He said this while addressing officers and men of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) at the opening ceremony of the Second Inter-Command Combat Sports Competition in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

The Air Force Chief also emphasised the importance of capacity building through physical fitness in creating a secure and stable environment for development.

Not undermining the importance of physical fitness in preparing personnel towards discharging their constitutional responsibility, he tasked participants to always remain fit in readiness for the challenges ahead.

Also speaking at the event, Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, who was dressed in a military uniform, commended the Federal Government’s efforts in tackling insurgency.

Participants at the event were drawn from the NAF Headquarters, Abuja; Tactical Air Command, Makurdi; Special Operations Command, Bauchi; Mobility Command, Bayelsa; Training Command, Kaduna and the Logistics Command, Lagos.

Medals were awarded to winners in the combat relay race for men, as the Training Command, Kaduna emerged winners to pick the gold medal ahead of other commands.

The Air Force Commands are participating in seven sports including boxing, judo, taekwondo, swimming, obstacle crossing, combat race and shooting range.

CCSF Takes Taekwondo Training To Schools

TaekwondoAs part of efforts geared towards developing taekwondo in Nigeria, the Chika Chukwumerije Sports Foundation (CCSF) Taekwondo Team, made up of secondary school students from Government Schools, will be heading to Ahmadu Bello University Zaria to practice and learn new skills.

The University team coach, Sani Lawal, a two-time National Champion, three-time University Champion and Internationally Certified Coach will supervise the training session.

The event which is scheduled to take place from March 18 – 20, 2016 at the indoor hall of the university will have a total of five training segments covering: general fitness, technical-tactical training, taekwondo basics, competitive training and video analysis methodology.

According to the Team Manager for TEAM CCSF, Nicholas Olowo, “The purpose of the programme is to inspire athletes and exchange vital training methodologies using the latest daedo electronic technologies”

For Vice-Captain of TEAM CCSF, 18-year-old Peter Itiku of Government Secondary School, Garki, it is yet another exciting opportunity for the students.

“I have never been to Kaduna in my life, and now taekwondo is taking me there. We have been consistently training 4 times a week for almost a year, and we are excited to go and practice with university students in a city we have never visited,” he said.

Turning her eyes to other benefits of the trip, 14-year old Bukola Ogunnusi, the youngest member of the team explained, “I have learnt so much in the past year, not only with regards to taekwondo, but other things.

“For instance, prior to this trip, we held a meeting and had to brainstorm on everything needed for this trip – personal equipment, general equipment, number of persons and project, possible cost like accommodation, transportation, feeding etc. This is new for me, and learning how to be organized has been very helpful to my general studies.”

Coach of the ABU Taekwondo team is looking forward to working with the youngsters.

“I think that this is probably the first time in Taekwondo that a project to connect secondary school youngsters directly with university players is being undertaken.

“More projects like this undertaken over the years will ensure an early and effective transfer of knowledge to a new generation. We look forward to ensuring the success of this programme.”

Three-time Olympian, and CEO of CCSF, Chika Chukwumerije, emphasized the importance of the project.

“We did not have this kind of opportunities as 15 and 16 year olds but this is the right time to simulate these youngsters. Exposing them early is important to fire their Tokyo 2020 Olympic dream, and guide them towards a golden harvest in the next 2019 All Africa Games.”

“Most of them are taking WAEC, but we have taught them consistently how to combine their sports and education.  This skill will be vital in the university system and we hope that this three-day program will also give the youngsters a feel of the university system before they get in.”

NSC Promises To Develop Taekwondo In Nigeria

TaekwondoThe National Sports Commission (NSC) has promised to support the Chika Chukwumerije Sports Foundation in a four-year strategic partnership geared towards the development and promotion of taekwondo in Nigeria.

The 3rd CCSF International Taekwondo Open witnessed a large turnout of athletes across Africa with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) dominating the eight events competed for at the two-day championship.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the championship which took place at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, Director-General of the NSC, Alhassan Yakmut said that with what CCSF has been doing in terms of its programmes, it was clear that the foundation has been able to champion the ideals of the commission.

“I am convinced beyond any doubt that CCSF has done a lot to promote and development taekwondo in Nigeria.

“For us at NSC, we want to partner organization like this because they are doing things that are in line with our vision. The atmosphere at this year’s tournament is what obtained globally in terms of international standard and I don’t think any reasonable person will not be impressed with what we have seen here tonight.

“Apart from the tournament, they have done workshop and other developmental activities to support the upcoming athletes. With this, NSC will be entering into four-year strategic partnership with CCSF to champion the development and promotion of taekwondo which is an Olympic sport in Nigeria. So from 2016, the collaboration will take off with NSC fully supporting the foundation in all its activities,” Alhassan said.

After two days of competitive action, the NSCDC confirmed why it is committed to sports in Nigeria when its athletes dominated the medal table at the 3rd CCSF Open concluded at the weekend.

NSCDC recorded four gold, one silver and four bronze medals to beat Mali and Niger Republic to second and third places on the medal table.

Mali again showed why it remains one of the taekwondo power houses in Africa when inspired by Soumare Karamoko, they won two gold and two bronze medals while Niger Republic won same number of gold with one silver and one bronze medals.

From the 284 athletes that featured in the competition which has the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF)-certified referees handling proceedings, Mali’s Karamoko was voted the best male athlete while NSCDC’s Chinazum Nwosu won the best female diadem.

Cameroun’s sole representative who fought his way into the final in the men’s -80kg to clinch silver medal won the fair play award for his sportsmanship during the final match, which he eventually lost to NSCDC’s Segun Olushola.

Chukwumerije Wins Gold at 2014 Belgian Open

Uche Chukwumerije 1Team Nigeria taekwondo captain to the 2011 All Africa Games, Uche Perez Chukwumerije has won a gold medal at the 25th Belgian Opens.

The tournament, which is a Grade One World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) competition have athletes from different parts of the world competing to gain points for their world ratings.

To win the gold, Uche defeated Rob Van Der Ploeg of Netherlands 2-1 in a quick opening bout, he overcame Josip Mara of Croatia 14-2 in the semifinals, and completed his fine form by flooring Hicham Massaoudi of Germany 4-1 in a very tactical final.

The current All Africa gold medalist, whose current world ranking as of February 2014, is 33, has earned a valuable 10 points that would impact positively on his world ranking which will be released this week.

He needs to be among the top 31 in the World to be eligible to compete at the Grand Prix Series, an exclusive Tournament series reserved for the World’s top 31 athletes in the eight weight categories. Top six qualifies automatically for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

After the bout, an excited Uche was pleased with his performance.

“I am happy that I won. This was my first competition since the World Championships last year, so I was a bit nervous. It is very important that I got some world ranking points. It is good for Nigeria and increases our chances for RIO 2016 Olympics.

“I hope I can repeat the same feat next weekend at the German Opens, next month at the African Senior Championships and at other tournaments scheduled for me this year. Hopefully, I would earn enough points to break into the Top 30 ranking this year,” he said.

He explained the importance of earning world ranking points.

“The Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF) led by George Ashiru, has encouraged and mandated elite athletes to earn points, while the NTF focuses on developing young athletes. Hence, my focus in 2014 is on earning those important points and fine-tuning my competitive skills, so I can be in prime shape by 2015, which is a key year for Elite athletes,” he added.

Uche Perez is brother and mentor to triple Olympian, Chika Chukwumerije, whose engagement with the National Youth Team to the 2014 Junior World Championships in Chinese Taipei caused Chika to miss the opportunity to gain vital ranking points alongside his older brother.

 

 

Team Nigeria’s Olympic Woes: We deserve what we got -George Aluo

In discussing the downward slide of the sports sector in Nigeria, which of late reached its limits in the recently concluded London 2012 Olympics where Team Nigeria had a poor showing as they came back home without a medal, roving sports journalist George Aluo joined the crew of our breakfast show to look at what went wrong.

George said he was not surprised that Team Nigeria didn’t win any medal but he felt strongly that even with a dismal performance, Team Nigeria would still manage to scramble for a few medals here and there but alas that was not to be.

He continued by saying ‘Realistically he thought Team Nigeria would win medals from three sports namely athletics, long jump event, weightlifting and taekwondo.