Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR) has spent around nine months off competition. A heartbreaking loss in Tokyo meant that she missed out on a medal at her second straight Games. But with African Championships and Commonwealth Games scheduled within three months, the World silver medalist is back for the continental tournament beginning next week in El Jadida.
As she is coming back after a break, the five-time African champion is jumping up to 59kg for the tournament. While she has nothing to prove at the competition, it will be a warm-up before she goes for her title defense at the Commonwealth Games in August.
Along with Adekuoroye, Nigeria will pin hopes on Blessing OBORUDUDU (NGR) to guide the country to defend their team title. The Tokyo Olympic silver medalist will be looking for her 11th straight African title.
Oborududu, unlike her younger compatriot Adekuoroye, wrestled at the World Championships in Oslo after the Olympics but lost early. But she began the 2022 season with a gold medal at the Ranking Series in Istanbul in February.
That victory included a win over world champion Meerim ZHUMANAZAROVA (KGZ) in the final. Oborududu had defeated her in the quarterfinal of the Tokyo Games as well.
Nigeria has entered nine wrestlers out of ten weight classes as it has missed the 62kg. It may prove tricky as its biggest challenger Tunisia has entries in all 10 weight categories.
It will be a close battle between the two nations for the title as Tokyo Olympians Sarra HAMDI (TUN), Siwar BOUSETA (TUN), Zaineb SGHAIER (TUN) and Rio bronze medalist Marwa AMRI (TUN) are leading the charge for their country. Also in the mix is young star Khadija JLASSI (TUN) at 65kg.
Adekouroye and Bouseta will clash head-on at 59kg and that may prove to be crucial in deciding which country finishes at the top.
Source and image: www.uww.org