Thirteen years after Chika Chukwumerije won a bronze medal in the taekwondo event of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, 22-year-old Elizabeth Anyanacho, who is the first woman in 16 years to represent Nigeria in the taekwondo event of the Tokyo Olympic Games will be aiming to repeat Chukwumerije’s feat.
However, this long hiatus for Nigeria in the sport has set tongues wagging over the fortunes of the sport in the country. While some taekwondists are of the view that the out-going Margaret Binga-led board of Nigeria Taekwondo Federation has performed well in office, others argue to the contrary.
Anyanacho who arrived in Japan on Wednesday said she is optimistic that her efforts would be rewarded with a podium finish in Tokyo.
However, 2019 African Games gold medalist, Chinazum Nwosu believes that under the Binga-led board, the sport has witnessed several successes especially in terms of athletes ranking, grading, and organization of tournaments.
She said: “The coaching system has also improved as more coaches are well updated on the latest rules in the sport. I must also commend the efforts of the Technical Director, Chika Chukwumerije, who has been working hard to make certain changes in the interest of the athletes.”
But unlike Nwosu, 2019 African Games bronze medalist, Uzuamaka Otunadinma believes nothing seems to have changed in the sport. In fact, she blames the Binga-led board for her inability to compete at the Olympic qualifiers. Her words: “I cannot imagine myself not going to the qualifiers and finally miss out on the Olympic Games in Tokyo. It is just frustrating that a lot of athletes have been discouraged with the way things are being run in the federation. For me, the last four years have not been good and it is painful that I cannot compete at the Olympic Games,” a visibly frustrated Otunadinma said.
However, Vivian Ndu, three-time national champion, believes that the Binga-led board has handled the sport with transparency and accountability which was lacking before the board came on board.
The 2015 African Games bronze medalist does not underestimate the contributions of Chukwumerije to the sport.