Do we have athletes already qualified or are aspiring to qualify for Tokyo 2020?
Our qualifiers are scheduled for February 22 and 23, 2020. We would work hard to qualify.
How many athletes are you looking up to?
We can qualify maximum of four, two males and two females. So we would work hard to have those four.
You know you’re not just looking at your best; you’re also looking at your oppositions because there are eight weight categories.
You can only take four, so we are going to be tactical.
Could you expatiate more on this?
We have to look at other countries; what categories are they coming into. Then we look at our best; who has the best chance of coming out.
So, it’s a very tactical thing. I’ve qualified for the Olympics three times, and the only African taekwondo athlete that has done it and it was difficult.
So, when people say “would you qualify?” I always say, “That’s the goal; we must be prepared to win”.
So we are going to prepare to win, we are going to prepare to qualify, then at the end we would see what happens. Whatever happens let Nigerians know we are going to give our 100 per cent.
If a sport has the same champion for 10 years, you know then perhaps the sport is not growing
What can you say about the quality of the 10th Korea Ambassador Taekwondo Championships held in Lagos recently?
It was fantastic! You see, the action was explosive. If you look at the ages of the competitors, they are all young.
I’ll tell you that in that competition, the number of people between the age of 15 and 18 were many.
There was a whole new generation coming up and they were fighting toe-to-toe with these guys that just came back from the African Games in Morocco.
This is what we want to see. If a sport has the same champion for 10 years, you know then perhaps the sport is not growing.
In our sport, we have seen a lot of challengers to the throne and this makes us very happy. We’re very grateful to the Koreans for sponsoring the event.
What are you telling other corporate organisations as a federation?
We encourage every other person, states, clubs to also come up with their events and we would support it.
We are thankful to Lagos State for providing the infrastructure.
It’s something that is commendable and that’s something other states should also emulate.
This makes us very happy. This current administration of the Nigerian Taekwondo Federation is willing to work.
We want to open up a lot of opportunities like this and anytime we see it, we grab it because this is what our practitioners want.
They’re ready to come and engage and you can see how the school children were screaming because they had not seen it before.
For the first time many of them were seeing the Olympics sport of taekwondo and they were happy with it.
So, this is what will help us to build a whole new generation.