Abuja – The Elizabeth Binga-led board of Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF) says athletes training camp for the 2016 Olympics qualifier in Morocco will begin on Jan. 5 in Abuja.
Binga said this in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.
The factional NTF president explained that arrangements have been concluded for successful camping of the athletes, pending the release of funds by the National Sports Commission (NSC).
She said that the eight invited athletes who would represent the country in four-weight category were selected based on their performance at the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville.
She added that “we have four weight Olympics category — four male and four female and we are inviting extra as their sparring partners; all together they will be 16 in camp.
“We are still discussing to see if we can increase the sparring partners to two but for now, 16 athletes are reporting to camp tomorrow (Jan. 5) and they will prepare for the qualifiers.
“The athletes have been training before now but they will be coming to camp tomorrow (Jan. 5) to begin preparation for the qualifiers.
“The coaches will also be available and we are not waiting for the NSC; NTF board members have made pledges to support the camping.
“Some will support with accommodation, while some will support with feeding, so everybody is committed since the Olympic qualifier is coming up in Morocco between Feb. 4 and Feb. 7.”
She explained that George Ashiru, the embattled NTF president was still a member of the board and that ideas from him would be implemented provided they would assist in the development of teakwondo.
Meanwhile, Ashiru had distanced himself from the Jan. 5 opening of camp by the Binga-led NTF board in preparation for the 2016 Olympics qualifier in Morocco.
Ashiru told NAN that any move to prepare the athletes without the permission of the NSC would be counterproductive.
He said “I am not dragging position with anybody; I am the elected president of the Nigerian Taekwondo Federation.
“The NSC has not written a letter to me to say that for one reason or the other that I no longer hold that position.
“The minister has made a clear declaration that I remain the president and if there are issues to be resolved, it should be resolved later.
“I have continued to do my work as president of the federation and if anybody else is doing anything contrary to the declaration of the minister, that could be said to be a contempt.”
He noted that the athletes were yet to be called to camp for the Olympics qualifier in Morocco because the NSC was yet to approve the federation’s programme for 2016, which included the Olympics preparation.
Ashiru said a date for camping in preparation for the Olympics qualifier would soon be announced by the Secretary of NTF, Sunny Obot. (NAN)