25th July, 2011
Former Commonwealth champion and Technical Adviser of the Nigerian Wrestling Federation, Daniel Igali, says the federation will take at least two outstanding wrestlers from the recently concluded 17th National Sports Festival in Port Harcourt, Rivers State to next yearâ€™s Olympic Games in London.
Igali said the fedration will ensure that all the Olympic-bound Nigerian wrestlers will be exposed to international competitions for them to gain confidence ahead of the Games.
â€œWe need to expose our wrestlers to international competitions. This will help us to discover more world beaters and also help them gain confidence,â€™â€™he said.
Igali, however, refused to disclose the names of the wrestlers that would make it to the next yearâ€™s Olympics in London, stating that this could lead to unhealthy competetion among the wrestlers. He urged stakeholders in the country to motivate the wrestlers in order to bring the best out of them.
The Sydney Olympic gold medalist who identified lack of sponsorship as the bane of Nigerian wrestling, believes that corporate bodies should complement the efforts of the Federal Government, especially in the area of organising regular tournaments, adding that corporate endorsement and sponsorship of athletes to international competitions are ways of developing wrestling in the country.
Igali became African national champion in 1994 and competed in the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, B.C. where he made the difficult decision to remain in Canada and was given refugee status due to the heavy political unrest in Nigeria.
Igali secured an amazing 116-0 record in collegiate competition and in 1996, he lost to American Terry Steiner 7-4 in the final match of the Clansmen International Tournament. Vowing never to be embarrassed again, a determined Igali changed his training regimen and placed 4th at the 1998 World Championships.
He became the first Canadian male to win the Wrestling World Freestyle Championship in 1999. One year later, Igali won gold for Canada at the Sydney Olympic Games, the first Canadian to do so for wrestling.He was inducted into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.