Majemite Omagbaluwaje (OLY) is the only Nigeria Judoka to have attended three Olympic Games in Seoul ’88, Barcelona ’92 and Sydney 2000.
Omagbaluwaje told www.aclsports.com that it was a great honour representing Nigeria at the All African Games, African Championships, World Championships and Olympics.
He said, “Nigeria Judo started nose-diving as far back as 1992 when late Group Captain Lawan Dangaji was elected the President of Nigeria Judo Federation. He began inviting Judokas to camp based on sentiment, tribe and religious belief. I can give you an example; I got a scholarship from International Olympic Committee in 1991 but Dangaji cancelled it because I was not from a section of the country. Meanwhile, I was awarded the scholarship based on merit and my performance in Africa and the world.
Omagbaluwaje said, “I am proud to say that I represent Nigeria at three Olympics (Seoul ’88, Barcelona ’92 and Sydney 2000). I went to 4 African championships where I won 1 gold 1 silver and 1 bronze. I was the first Nigeria Judoka to win a gold medal at the All African Games attending 4 All African Games winning 2 gold (1991 and 1999) and 2 bronze medals.
“I also attended the World Championship in 1989 at Belgrade finishing 7th position, won silver and bronze medals at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in the 71kg and open weight class respectively. It was a great honour to represent my Country flying the flag of Nigeria at these international championships”.
On how he started Judo, Omagbaluwaje told www.aclsports.com that he attended local tournaments from secondary school.
He called on Nigeria judo coaches to spend more time with their athletes, mentor them and make them upright citizens.
The UK based judoka said, “I was born in Lagos but my family is from Itsekiri in Delta State. I started Judo back in 1982 while I was in high school at Ikeja High School. I and my friends used to go a different School to do Judo with Dominic Enyoghasim. When I started Judo it was not because I want to get paid; I was doing it because I love the game and I wanted to be good at it.
“I call on Nigeria coaches to spend more time with upcoming Judokas, mentor them so that they can become good Judoka and upright citizen”
Omagbaluwaje disclosed that the fortunes of Judo in Nigeria started dwindling when Group Captain Dangaji became president of the Nigeria Judo Federation in 1992.
He said the only way for Judo to grow in the country is for the Federation president to be a practitioner of the sports.
“The only way we can get things right is for Nigeria Judo to have a president that knows what Judo is about, the truth is Judo is a noble sports and the Coaches think about bringing up judokas that understand the game of Judo not just fighters. The President, board members and coaches should be willing to put time in to the sports.
“The federation needs to go out and look for sponsorship so they can attend international competition. The only way for Nigeria Judokas to rate themselves is to participate in championship”, he added.