By Amaechi Agbo
The final batch of Nigeria weightlifters at the 2023 IWF Championship have arrived the country after winning three medals at the championship holding in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The contingent arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja on Thursday after consolidating their 2024 Olympic Games qualification hopes.
The IWF Championship, organised by world weightlifting body, International Weightlifting Federation, IWF also serves as the 2024 Olympic Games qualifier.
The first batch of the contingent returned on Monday after completing their competition. The athletes include Folashade Rafiatu Lawal and Olarinoye Adenike Adija both of who competed in the 59kg women category as well as Ayodele Ruth Imoleayo, who won the three medals in 64kg women category and Edidiong Umoafia who competed in 73kg men category.
The second and last batch of the contingent comprising two athletes – Joy Eze Ogbonne who competed in 71kg women category and Akano Desmond who competed in 89kg men category returned to the country on Thursday through Ethiopia Airline at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja in the noon.
Nigeria consolidated her Olympic Games qualification aspirations as two lifters, Ayodele Ruth Imoleayo and Folashade Rafiatu Lawal made it into the top 10 positions in the IWF Championship.
Ayodele who won the three medals – two silver and a bronze – in 64kg women category after 100kg in snatch and 122kg in clean and Jerk making a total of 222kg lift is placed 2nd on the IWF Championship final table.
Folashade Rafiatu Lawal was placed 6th in the championship table after she had 100kg in snatch, 122kg in clean and Jerk and 222kg in total in the 59kg women category. Her fellow compatriot, Olarinoye Adenike Adijat was placed 15th on the overall table in the same category with a total of 215kg lift.
Joy Eze Ogbenne who competed in 71kg women category was placed 14th in the overall table after lifting a total of 227kg.
Competing in 73kg and 89kg men’s categories respectively, Umoafia Edidiong and Akano Desmond with total lifts of 310kg and 338kg were placed 18th and 22nd on the table.
Speaking with the Nigeria Weightlifting Federation, IWF Media in Abuja, the Secretary-General of the Federation, Melvina Ashinedu Apeh (Mrs) said Nigeria’s chances of Paris Olympic Games weightlifting event qualification is still in tact.
“Our Olympic qualification is still in tact. We have two lifters who made it within the 10th positions in the IWF Championship. There is still room for others to improve and get to that level. We still have three more qualifying championships to participate in and I am optimistic that giving the MWF President’s determination and focus, as well as the athletes hardwork, we will get the tickets, “ she said.
Nigeria will participate in three more competitions before their Olympic tickets are determined.
The Championships include: IWF Grand Prix, Doha, Qatar, 1-17 December, 2023; Africa Championship, February 25 to March 2nd, 2024 and IWF World Cup, Phuket, Thailand, April 2024.