The Nigeria Wrestling Federation has said that Nigeria’s first wrestler to reach the final of a wrestling event at the Olympics, Blessing Oborududu, was discovered during an inter-house sport at a high school.
The Caretaker Chairman of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation and erstwhile member of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Daniel Igali, who made this known also said Oborududu was first invited to a national camp in 2007.
He said this after Oborududu made history as the first Nigerian to reach the final of a wrestling event at the Olympics, after recording an impressive 7-2 victory against 2012 bronze medallist Battsetseg Soronzonbold of Mongolia in the last four clash.
Igali said Oborududu was the project of the Federation since day one of his tenure.
“Blessing Oborududu is ranked no.2 in the world, we discovered her from an inter-house wrestling competition at her High school and had her in the national camp from 2007,” he said.
Igali expressed delight with the love Nigerians have displayed to the wrestling team at the Olympics.
“The wrestling team are determined more than ever to continue with their superlative performance and you can see how everyone in Nigeria is anxious to see us do well,” Igali added.
After her victory, Oborodudu said, “Even when things were not going well for Team Nigeria in Tokyo with other athletes, I said to myself, I will make Nigeria proud.”
The 10-time African champion Oborududu will face top seed Tamyra Stock Mensah in Tuesday’s final, after the American World champion overpowered Ukraine’s Alla Cherkasova 10-4 in the first semi-final.
Following her passage to the final, the 32-year-old is guaranteed a silver, at least – the first wrestling medal in the country’s history at the Olympics.
On her way to the final, Obourududu made light work of Elis Manolova in the round of 16, thrashing the Azerbaijani 13-2 via technical superiority, before securing a hard-fought 3-2 win against Meerim Zhumanazarova of Kyrgyzstan in the quarter-finals.
After a cagey opening moment in her semi-final bout against the 2015 World champion Soronzonbold, the energetic Oborududu burst into action, taking down the 31-year-old Mongolian thrice to eventually win the first round 7-0.
A late fight back saw Soronzonbold score two points, but Oborududu was never going to be denied a place in history as she ran out with a comfortable 7-2 win.
The second seed Oborududu will renew her rivalry with old foe Mensah, as they battle for the ultimate prize – gold medal, with the pair expected to get on the mat around 11.15am Nigerian time.
They last met at the 2019 World championships in Kazakhstan, with the American getting the better of Oborududu on her way to the title.