The tone was set for the 2016 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT) following Tuesday’s official draw , with Nigeria’s Helen Ogunjimi expressing optimistism about her team’s ability to make it to the Rio Games.
The Nigerians will play in Group C alongside Belarus and Korea at the 12-team event taking place in the French city of Nantes from 13-19 June. The West Africans, who earned their spot in the WOQT by finishing third at AfroBasket Women 2015, are relieved to know their opponents.
“It’s exciting to finally know who we are playing in the group stage. Now it’s up to us to be ready and bring our A game”.—-Ogunjimi
Nigeria last competed in the Women’s Olympic Basketball Tournament at Athens 2004, where they beat Korea 68-64 to finish 11th in the 12-team field. Ogunjimi and her team mates think it is high time to make their comeback.
“I feel and know that we are ready for any challenges coming our way. God didn’t bring us this far for nothing. It’s time to show that not only Africa but Nigeria is a force to be reckoned with,” The 31-year old added.
The WOQT brings together 12 teams from across FIBA’s five regions – Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. The top five teams in the event will qualify for Rio 2016.
Ogunjimi expects it to be a tough battle but is confident that Nigeria have what it takes to make it to Brazil. Achieving this goal though will take a lot of hard work.
“Everybody wants to win and everybody wants to go to the Olympics. Our expectations are that we will make it in the top five [at the WOQT].” – Ogunjimi
“We make sure that we get our workouts in, eat right, taking care of our mind and body so that we are ready for what’s ahead in June. We are making sure that we are staying in shape and that our mind is on the Olympics.