Nigeria began its quest to earn medals and qualifying points for the World Fencing Championship, yesterday, at the ongoing 11th African Cadet and Junior Fencing Championship held at the Festival Hotel, Festac Town, Lagos.
But it has to contend with some of the powerful forces in the sport, notably Egypt, Algeria and South Africa.
On opening day, Wednesday, Team Nigeria started on an impressive note, with some of the athletes showing enough promise that indicates the country will hold its won despite the superior experience of the North Africans and South Africa.
Yesterday, Team Nigeria turned up with improved performance with the duo of Natania Emusa and Amanda Nwakalor recording wins in the preliminary round.
In the girls épée, Emusa defeated South African Mpho Mohlala and also got the better of Angola’s Florida Alvaro in their contest before bowing to her compatriot, Chizora Nwokocha.
Nwakalor, on her part, defeated Safietou Djiba of Senegal, as well as Doria Nenni of Benin Republic
However, Egypt had a near clean sweep of medals decided so far.
In the individual women’s foil, Egypt’s Jana Ehab took gold at the expense of her teammate, Malek Hamza, while Lojain Khaled also from Egypt and Malek Tantast of Algeria ended as joint bronze medal winners.
In the Épée, Mahmoud Elsayed won gold with fellow Egyptian Ahmed Hussein taking the silver, while Algeria’s Houssam Berkane and Eslam Osama finished joint third.
Egypt, yet again, dominated the Men’s sabre with Ahmed Elsedawy and Yassin Khodir respectively winning the gold and silver medals. Their compatriot, Fares Basem and Algeria’s Lofti Ibrahim got the bronze medals as third-place finishers.
The tournament, which has over 150 fencers representing 12 countries, will end on Sunday.
Speaking on the competition, Nigeria Fencing Federation President, Adeyinka Samuel, described the turnout of countries for the championship as impressive, adding that officials from the African fencing body are present to officiate at the event.
“Nigeria remarkably won two bronze medals in the individual men’s foil and women’s team Sabre at the 2018 edition also hosted in Lagos, and we are set to make several podia finishes, both at individual and team levels, this year.”
He added that Nigeria is ready to make good use of the opportunity of hosting the African championship to discover more talents that can compete at the highest level in the sport.
The African Junior Championship, he added, is also an avenue for junior fencers to earn points that will qualify them for the World Cadet and Junior Championships slated for the United Arab Emirates in April.(The Guardian)