ODUNAYO ADEKUOROYE is a brand name in freestyle wrestling. She came to the limelight when she won gold medal in 53kg for Nigeria at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. At the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, she won another gold in 57kg and is looking forward to show more of herself at the Tokyo Olympics. In this chat with JOSEPH ODOEKWU of SPORTS INTELLIGENCE MAGAZINE and she shares her divine story of how she abandoned athletics for Wrestling. The Excerpts reads.
What positive or negative impact has the covid-19 lockdown had on you?
Covid-19 has had both positive and negative impacts on me. On positive side, it has made me stay at home with my family longer, compared to before. However, its negative impact is I have not been going for competitions. It’s really harsh because I make money from competitions and now the lockdown has affected it. Moreover, the cancellation of the Olympics is also regrettable but I know I will be at Tokyo next year.
You made mention of the Tokyo Olympics, what are your expectations there next year?
I see Tokyo Olympics which come up next year as my Olympics breakthrough. I am going to win in Japan next year by God’s grace.
But why should a pretty young lady like you make a choice of wrestling, how did you come into the game?
I strongly believe that my coming into wrestling was divine. I chose wrestling because I wanted to travel out of Ondo State after I was dropped in athletics during school sports trials. It was a sad moment for me because I could not cope with the feelings of failing to make the athletics team.
So what then happened, who advised you to join wrestling?
It was my coach. He saw the way I felt and called me that he has a free slot for me in wrestling. He encouraged me that it’s a slot for one female and that was how I quickly grabbed the chance. But as God planned it, today I am a professional wrestler.
Perhaps your coach must have seen you fighting wrestling before, that’s why he invited you
It’s not true. I have never been involved in any wrestling fight before he invited me. And that is why I told you earlier that my going into wrestling was divine.
Tell us about the most difficult fight you have encountered in your career
My most difficult fight was against Soffia Matson from Sweden. It was during an Indian club side competition, I have lost to her twice earlier and that made me become more determined. I lost to her in Las Vegas U.S.A and also at the Rio 2016 Olympics games. But I thank God I won.
Was it just because she defeated you twice before that it became the most difficult fight in your career?
It was part of it. I was faced with the psychology of facing someone who has beaten me twice, it was not easy. Also, my fans in India believed so much in me and about 70,000 people came to watch the fight. I give God the glory for that victory.
Someday, don’t you think you could fight your husband when you get married?
God forbid. I will never do that. I do not fight outside match situations and the rules strictly forbid that. More so, I am a Christian and my religion will not allow me do such.
Are you in any relationship now?
I am not in any.
What is your best food and drink?
(Laughs) My best food is pounded yam and Egusi soup. While my best drink is either of Coke or Pepsi.
Thank you very much for making out time for us.
You are welcome. Thank you too.