Unbeaten Nigeria and African champion, Odunayo Adekuoroye who started her wrestling career in 2009 never intentionally had the zeal for wrestling as a sport rather she focused on athletics as she was a runner in her school, but after she was turned down in Athletics; which left her sad and heartbroken, Wrestling was her only option which turned out to be a major breakthrough.
“I was running in school, there was a particular competition I wanted to go for but I was told that there was no slot for me, I was just crying because I really wanted to travel then the wrestling coach told me that if I can wrestle he will take me for the same competition and I went for that junior competition and won the medal.”
After winning her first medal, less than a month in the Sport, She surprised everyone including her Coach, who actually just wanted her to make up the numbers, and gradually She gained the experience, eventually falling in love with wrestling.
“In that competition my coach did not expect me to do anything, My coach just took me along so he can have someone that will represent Ondo state, there was no pressure on me as no one was expecting me to win, when I did everybody was surprised how I did it in just two weeks. I was very happy not even because of the medal but that they rejected me in athletics and I came to wrestling to win.”
Adekuoroye had to get her parents approval which was extremely difficult because they didn’t support her foray into Sport as a career. It got worse and a strained relationship with her father caused him to disown her.
Overcoming the lack of support from her parents was hard, Odunayo said, “My coach, the chairman and general manager then, all followed me home. They told my parents not to worry about me that I will go to school. My coach agreed to take me home and promised to pay my school fees.My mum was ok with, but my dad disowned me. My parents told my coach to write a statement that if anything happened to me that he will be held responsible.”
But all of these did not affect Adekuoroye’s resolve to follow her passion, she kept wrestling and as she won more medals her parents became proud of her and eventually gave their blessings.
On residing with her Coach and combining school with sports, the African freestyle champion said, “There is nothing easy in life, you just have to try. I was in SS 1 when I started wrestling, I’m still in school and I’m coping, I train before and after school.”
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