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Paris Olympics: Nigerian weightlifters begin intensive camping in Abuja

"The moment they returned from the Africa Games, we didn't allow them much time. We sent them to camp at the High Performance Centre here in Abuja, and they have been doing well"

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With 50 days to the Olympics in Paris, Nigerian weightlifters have started intensive camping in Abuja.

Persecondnews reports that the duo of Lawal Folashade and Eze Ọgbonne are Nigeria’s weightlifting flagbearers at the Olympics.

Lawal and Eze are the only two weightlifters to qualify for the Olympics, according to the International Weightlifting Federation’s May 2024 Olympic Qualification Rankings released last week.

Lawal, a gold medalist at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the 2023 Africa Games, qualified for the Olympics in the 59 kg women’s category after placing eighth with a total of 227 kg.

Meanwhile, Eze, the 2023 Africa Games gold medalist, has been ranked 9th in the 71 kg women’s category with a total of 239 kg.

Edidiong Umoafia, who won three gold medals at the African Games in Accra, finished 24th in the 73 kg men’s category with a total of 319 kg, leaving Nigeria without three lifters in Paris.

Only athletes ranked between 1 and 10 in the IWF’s ranking on Monday qualified for the Olympics, according to a statement from Amaechi Agbo, Media Officer, Nigeria Weightlifting Federation.

The Nigeria Weightlifting Federation, under the leadership of Dr. Ibrahim Abdul, was committed to ensuring that the weightlifters made Nigerians proud at the Olympics.

Abdul, while speaking to journalists in Abuja on Monday, disclosed that the Federal Government has opened camping for all participating athletes in the Olympics.

He said: “First and foremost, the Federal Government, through the Honourable Minister for Sports, Senator John Enoh, has opened general camping for all the athletes who will be participating in the Olympics.

“We at the Weightlifting Federation want to use this medium to thank the minister for his efforts in starting camping for the athletes.

“On our part as a federation, our two athletes, Lawal Rufiatu and Eze Joy, who are the only two weightlifters we have for the Olympics, have been in camp since April 24.

“The moment they returned from the Africa Games, we didn’t allow them much time. We sent them to camp at the High Performance Centre here in Abuja, and they have been doing well.

“The reason we started camping early is because we want to keep them in a competitive mood.

“You will recall that both of them won three gold medals each at the African Games, so we felt it is important we don’t allow them to lose their competitive spirit.”

Lawal and Eze will join the other Olympic athletes in Germany on July 1 to continue their preparations before they travel to France for the Olympic Games.

Nigeria’s first medal in wrestling at the Olympics was silver at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In the 68 kg category, Blessing Oborududu won the country’s first medal in the women’s freestyle.

Oborududu is also a twelve-time African champion from 2010–2023 and the current world number two woman wrestler.

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