By Femi Atolagbe
Nigerian women’s freestyle wrestler, Odunayo Adekuoroye has expressed gratitude to God and everyone who supported her successful quest for a ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The 29-year-old has reasons to be grateful to God, being the only Nigerian that secured an automatic ticket to the quadrennial sports fiesta at the recently concluded 2023 Senior World Wrestling Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.
She clinched a bronze medal in the Women’s 57kg Freestyle Wrestling category after beating Elvira Kamaloglu of Turkey 9-5 points on Wednesday.
She poured her heart out in a statement on her Facebook page after achieving the feat that qualifies her for her third successive Olympic appearance, having participated in the 2016 and 2020 editions in Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo in 53kg and 57kg categories, respectively.
The post read, “I said to myself, Odunayo, how do I articulate my gratitude? God yesterday, God today, God tomorrow, and God evermore It has always been God for Odunayo.
“I will always be grateful to Daddy and Mummy D.K. Olukoya, my parents in the Lord, who carry me on their wings physically and spiritually like an eagle.
“I appreciate the Minister for Sports, Hon. John Enoh. To our wrestling papa, Hon. Daniel Igali, I say thank you for all the support.
“To my coach, Purity Wrestling Coach who keeps encouraging me not to give up even when I feel tired and exhausted, I am very grateful.
“E se gan sir to the Controller-General of the Nigerian Custom Services, Adewale Adeniyi, for the kind words and encouragement before I left for Serbia.”
“To my coaches in Wayland, USA, Davis Stryder and Mich Napier, and the Wayland team in general, you guys rock. Thank you for all you do.”
“To my American dad, John Laurenzi, thanks a million for your endless support. To my husband: I love you. I am eternally grateful to my family members for their endless prayers and motivation.”
“I can’t forget my teammates and friends who are always there to cheer and encourage me. Thank you guys.”
“And to all my fans all over the world, I have nothing but love for all of you.
“Ladies and gentlemen, your home girl, Odunayo Adekuoroye, just qualified for the Olympics in God’s style. Obrigado!”
Meanwhile, the president of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation, Daniel Igali, earlier heaped praise on Adekuoroye for her gutsy showing at the championships in Belgrade.
The Olympic wrestling champion said he was confident that many Nigerian wrestlers will secure tickets to Paris 2024 in subsequent qualifying tournaments.
He said, “Despite other athletes missing out in the automatic qualification race for Paris 2024, Odunayo fought like the champion she is to win the bronze medal.
“I am so happy that she has bounced back in great fashion; remember, she has been away for a while.
“Of course we were disappointed we didn’t get more podium finishes as expected, which would’ve eased the pressure, but no worries at all.
“Anybody can have a bad day, and Belgrade was one of those days. The athletes were disappointed, but we need to quickly get back on the grind and look forward to the next Olympic qualifiers in Alexandria, Egypt, in March next year”.