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155 athletes arrive in Abuja for Olympics, World Championship points

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More than 155 points-seeking taekwondoists drawn from 16 countries across the world have arrived in Abuja for the World Taekwondo G-1 ranked Nigeria International Open Championship, which starts on Friday at the Velodrome, Abuja National Stadium. The foreign taekwondoists will be joined by athletes from 23 Nigerian clubs and states, who are also looking for qualifying points.

Among the countries participating in the Open are the United States of America, France, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Senegal and Guadeloupe.Others are Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Niger Republic and Togo.

The Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF) president, Elizabeth Binga yesterday said the huge turn out followed the points at stake that would boost their qualification for the Olympics and World Championship. According to Binga, the championship would help the local players gain world ranking points that would give them easier draws at the global scene, as well as expose them to top foreign competitors and critical experience.

Clamouring for corporate partnership to improve the standard of the combat sport, Binga said the federation intended to stage more G-1 events in the country, thus attracting top players across the globe.She added that the championship would help the country’s team prepare for the forthcoming African Games in Morocco. “The national team members would engage with some of their competitors for the 2019 All Africa Games. This would be used to do a technical assessment of Nigeria’s national team players against their All Africa Games competitors,” Margaret Binga said yesterday.

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Speaking on his expectations, one of the participants from the U.S., Sohwon Kim said he was here for the points to enable him qualify to wear his national colours at the Olympics and World Championships.Kim, one of the top 50-ranked taekwondoists in the global ranking, will fight in the -68kg when the event begins.

“I am here for serious business. It is my desire to emerge champion… that is one of the reasons I came early to get used to the environment. I will do my best to beat my opponents.

“I just attended a Taekwondo championship before heading to Nigeria. Winning gold in Nigeria Open will help me to make the World championship team. The criteria in America is whoever accumulates the most G ranking points by March 31 will be at the World Championship,” Sohwon Kim said.

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