Nigerian freestyle wrestlers capped what could best be described as a remarkable outing for the country at the 2020 Africa Wrestling Championships in Algiers by winning four medals including a fourth consecutive continental gold for rising star Emmanuel Ogbonna John in the 74kg class as the competition came to an end on Sunday.
John won his fourth African Championships title by overcoming home boy Ishak Boukhors 5-1 in the final to climb to No. 7 in the World ranking at 74kg.
“This is called back-to-back-to-back-to-back. God has done it again, I give all the glory to Him. It is not by my power, it’s not by my strength, but it is by the grace of God,” a spiritual John said after his win.
He added: “Like you know, I am the current African champion, so, I know everybody is preparing for me. So, I trained harder to make sure that I retain my title, and I have done that.”
Meanwhile, Amas Daniel (65kg) will continue his search for a 6th African title after losing 4-2 to 2019 champion Mbunde Mbali of Guinea Bissau to settle for silver in a tough finale. The Team Nigeria captain required treatment on the mat after suffering a cut on his ear in the encounter.
Former champions Ekerekeme Agiomor (86kg) and Soso Tamarau (97kg) both won bronze medals.
Having watched their female counterparts perfom exceptionally well a day earlier, the men went into action on Sunday poised to equally impress, but got to a worst possible start as Ebikewenimo Welson (57kg) lost to Egyptian Gamal Mohamed in the qualification round.
However, the men showed great determination to eventually claim four medals.
Their result in Algiers showed an improvement from 2019, where they won three medals; a gold and two bronze, in Hammamet, Tunisia.
Overall, Team Nigeria won a total of 14 medals – 7 gold, 5 silver and 2 bronze – at the just-concluded African Championships in Algiers, with all but one of the 15 wrestlers that represented the country at the competition returning home with a medal.
The team is expected back in Nigeria on Tuesday.
By Betty Akota