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Victorious military wrestlers return, promise to make Nigeria proud




The Nigerian military wrestlers who won gold and silver medals at the just-concluded 36th World Military Wrestling Championship in Baku, Azerbaijan, returned home on Sunday, promising to continue to make Nigeria proud.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the wrestlers were received at the International Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja around 10pm by  officials of the Defence Headquarters.

Addressing newsmen on arrival, the Director of Sports, DHQ, AVM Abidemi Marquis, thanked the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Christopher Musa, for giving them the platform to project the image of the nation’s military on the world stage.

Marquis said the motivation behind the performance of the athletes stemmed from their awareness that they were going to represent their country and knowing that the national anthem of Nigeria would be played and the flag hoisted if they won medals.

“So the athletes understood the enormous task ahead of them, and they were well motivated because all the necessary things that were required for them to compete among the best were provided.

“So before we even left Nigeria, we were highly motivated.

“We just need to build on what we have achieved so that we can get to the level that we are looking at because Nigeria is hosting African Military Games next year.

“So this is a building process,” he said.

Marquis said the CDS, having understood the strategic importance that sports played in making a country visible, made sure that all that was needed for sporting engagement was provided.

He said the athletes were happy to have returned with the gold and silver medals, saying that nobody gave them a chance at the onset of the competition, but they were able to compete fairly and fiercely.

According to him, those who didn’t even know Nigeria at all because of our presence now know Nigeria.

The gold medalist, a female wrestler, Cpl. Hannah Reuben, who beat her Italian contender in the 68 weight category of women’s freestyle, said her mindset, preparation, and hard work propelled her to glory during the competition.

Reuben said she had been competing at different levels, which she said had helped her build herself up for the just-concluded competition that earned her a gold medal.

She promised to continue to do better ahead of the military games that would be hosted by Nigeria, where she only wanted to win more gold medals.

“I will keep doing better, and I will do better next time, by God’s grace,” she said.

The Siver Medalist, Lance Cpl. Esther Ojolaide, said the secret behind her performance was the adage that says, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

Ojolaide said the privilege and encouragement that the CDS had given spurred them to action at the world level to represent the Nigerian Armed Forces.

“I am promising the Nigerian Armed Forces, the next competition to be hosted by Nigeria, that we are going to do more,” she said.

The coach of the team, Warrant Officer Godswill Tiebiri, said the support of the CDS and the cooperation between the teams, both athletes and coaching crew, earned them the gold and silver medals from the tournament.

He said the gold medal had broken the 50-year record in the history of wrestling in the Nigerian military at the world level.

“We got a silver; we have gotten bronze in the world, but we haven’t gotten the gold medal.

“So myself as the coach and my Cpl. Hannah have broken the record of 50 years,” he said.