After missing out from the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Grand Prix in China and managing to make it to the Grand Prix in Astana, Kazakhstan last month, Nigeria’s Chika Chukwumerije, has been listed among the top athletes in the world that will compete at the next WTF Grand Prix, to be held in Manchester, UK on 25th and 26th October 2014.
The martial art maestro, who was in danger of losing out on the prestigious Grand Prix, after missing out on the last edition in Suzhou, China, ensured he competed last weekend at the 2nd Grand prix of the year in Astana, Kazakhstan, held 29th August to 2nd September 2014, in order to gain enough momentum to make it to Manchester.
He beat the inaugural Grand Prix Finalist, and current 2014 Dutch opens Gold medallist, Guilherme Cezario Felix of Brazil, 8 – 1 in the opening round, before narrowly succumbing to Number 3 in the World, England’s Mahama Cho 3 – 5 in the round of 16.
Commenting on his performance, Chukwumerije acknowledged he would need to step up his training to make better impact at the next Grand Prix.
“I was not quite fit for the Astana Grand Prix, even though I put in a solid defensive performance. I lost a bit of concentration right in the last few seconds of my bout with Cho, and it cost me the match. However, it was critical I got enough momentum to make it to the next grand Prix in Manchester. Now, I have two months to get myself back into the kind of shape I should be in, and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
The WTF Grand Prix, is currently the most interesting and competitive series on the WTF Calendar, and has had the Taekwondo global world buzzing since the inaugural edition in December 2013.
Only the world’s top 31 athletes in each weight category, based on their recent 2014 WTF Olympic ranking, are eligible for the tournament, and the Grand Prix series have a direct impact on qualification for the RIO 2016 Olympics, as a massive 40 Olympic ranking points are at stake.
Chukwumerije used the opportunity to weigh in on the Ebola saga that has seen Nigeria miss the 2014 Youth Olympics in China and the Wrestling World Championships in Uzbekistan.
“I fought in Kazakhstan last week at the Astana Grand Prix, and checks were carried out at the airport – here in Nigeria and at Kazakhstan. Why next door neighbours, Uzbekistan would deny the Wrestlers potential World Championships fame is unfair.”
Chukwumerije encouraged world sporting regulatory bodies should take a cue from the World Taekwondo Federation,
“The nature of sports is to break down barriers, not enforce them. Perhaps, other sports need to take a cue from the WTF in the lesson of inclusion, rather than marginalizing a Country of 180 million people, because of very few Ebola cases.”
“The message is simple – stop marginalizing our National Teams. Ebola is a serious threat in the West Africa region that is a genuine challenge that the global community is understandably worried about. However, the perception that the world of sports is shutting its doors on Africa when countless other reasonable routes are available is just not acceptable. Proper screening can be carried out before cutting off the expectations of athletes that had put in a lot of hard work. Medical tests can be done to ensure they are Ebola-free, but it should stop there”