Ondo Reigns Supreme As Oshodi Foundation National Open Judo Championship Ends With A Bang
IKPO IGBINOBA, just back from Ibadan
At 1.9 metres, (6 feet 3inches), Coach Toyin Ojo of Ondo State is the tallest judo coach in the country.
Before the battle for laurels began during the Oshodi Foundation National Open Senior Judo Championship at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium in Ibadan, Ojo was easily noticeable because of his height.
But when the curtain fell on the championship on Sunday, Ojo’s performance and not just his towering height stood him out.
In the championship acknowledged by stakeholders to be the best ever in terms of organisation, Ojo and his team swept the stakes.
And the towering coach further dwarfed his colleagues who were in Ibadan for the judo event.
The Ondo State team garnered four gold and two bronze medals to conquer the field in the fiercely contested championship.
Those who secured the prized top position for Ondo State include Fatai Muritala, who snatched the gold in the 81 kg category for men, Adijat Azeez who won gold in the 70kg for women, Cecilia James, won gold in the 63 kg category for women and Kafayat Azeez who also won gold in the 52 kg category for women.
Marvellous Otemuyi and Royan Oloyede got bronze medals in +78 kg category and 66 kg respectively.
The Ondo team did not only top the medal table, they also clinched the prestigious title of best behaved team, while coach Ojo was crowned the best behaved coach.
Though Ojo and his team stole the limelight, he refused to take credit for the accomplishments.
“It’s not by my strength that we achieved this much in this championship. I have a lot of people to thank for the achievement”, he told judoblitzng.com.
He continued “I would like to start from the sponsor, Dr. Musa Oshodi who provided the platform for us to excel.
“If he had not sponsored this championship, we would not have had the opportunity to exhibit our abilities.”
Ojo also thanked the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu for creating an enabling environment for sportsmen to perform at their optimum level.
According to him “Our governor Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, is a constant source of inspiration as he provided all that’s required for us to excel.
” Without his input, what we achieved in Ibadan would not have been possible”.
“Another big influence in our success story” Ojo continued “is the General Manager of the Ondo State Sports Council, Mr. Henry Babatunde.
“The GM is the backbone of our team. Without him, things couldn’t have turned out sweet for us”.
The coach who took Nigeria to Africa Youth Games held in Algiers in 2018 also named his wife Mrs. Funke Toyin Ojo and pastor of the Life Apostolic Church, Mr. Segun Samuel Ojo as two other individuals that played very important role in the achievement of the Ondo State team.
He revealed “My wife and my pastor supported us both morally and spiritually. With their prayers, we were able to achieve our dreams”.
Rivers and Anambra states also had their names registered on the honours list by winning the best male and female judokas trophies respectively.
For Rivers, Miracle Cyprian fighting in the 90kg category snatched the honour while Chineye Okoronkwo did it for Anambra in the +78 kg category.
Overall, the championship which attracted Nigerians from the Diaspora was a phenomenal success.
Sponsored by former vice president of the Nigeria Judo Federation, NJF, Dr. Musa Oshodi, the championship has raised the bar in the area of organisation.
A judoka who came from abroad to witness the championship, Mr.Esosa Aghatatikolo, based in the United States said the championship matched what was on offer in developed climes in terms of organisation.
He enthused “I am highly impressed with the level of organisation.
“What we need in the country are regular and well organised championships and our judo would compete with the best in the world”.