Three of Nigeria’s six wrestlers for the 2017 World Wrestling Championships were stranded in Lagos on Monday after Air Maroc, which was scheduled to fly them, cancelled its trip, even though the competition officially opened in Paris, France.
Nigeria would be represented at the competition by six wrestlers and two coaches. The team was unveiled to journalists at the secretariat of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, last week.
The wrestlers comprise 2015 World Championship bronze medallist, Odunayo Adekuoroye, who will compete in the women’s 55kg, captain Blessing Oborududu (63kg), Aminat Adeniyi (58kg), Mercy Genesis (48kg), Daniel Amas (65kg men’s freestyle) and Emmanuel John (70kg).
The three wrestlers headed for Paris on Monday were Oborududu, Adekuoroye and Adeniyi as well as coach Purity Akuh while Genesis, John and Amas are still in the country.
Adekuoroye, Oborududu and 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Adeniyi will wrestle on Wednesday while their weight control holds on Tuesday. Brazzaville 2015, All Africa Games gold medalist Genesis will compete on Thursday, while Amas and John will take to the mat on Saturday.
Our correspondent learnt that the team, who were initially booked to depart the country on Sunday, could not leave as their flight was cancelled by Air Maroc.
President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation, Daniel Igali, told our correspondent that the airline did not notify the federation of the cancellation and brought only a small aircraft to convey passengers, thereby making the team and some other passengers to miss their flights.
However, Igali said the federation made last minute efforts to get three of the wrestlers and a coach on an Ethiopian Airline flight on Monday. He said that would allow the early competitors to make their weight control while the other three wrestlers would join the team later.
“It is very disappointing that Air Maroc cancelled the team’s flight and failed to make room for them on the alternative flight they had. I believe that if it were Moroccan athletes going to the world championships, they would have created space for them,” he said.
“The team was scheduled to leave on Sunday and arrive in Paris on Monday but they disappointed them. We have to buy four new tickets after running around to raise new funds at almost N1m for each person to enable them meet up.”
Igali said the three wrestlers are to arrive Paris early on Tuesday in time for their weight control while the federation would continue to work on ensuring that the other three joined them.
“Ensuring that Nigeria is represented at this competition has been very tough but we are still working to ensure that the others join the team in Paris before their weight control and their events begin,” he said.
The Nigerian team was sponsored by the Bayelsa State Government and other individuals for the competition.