Why I stopped Taekwondo – Chika Chukwumerije
Ing. Chika Chukwumerije is a Nigerian Olympic medalist who has qualified and competed in three Olympic Games. In this interview with selected journalists in Abuja, the former technical director of the Nigerian Taekwondo Federation talks, among other things, about his life as a taekwondo practitioner.
Decision to leave the stage
There comes a time when you need to get involved and you need to move on. I started Taekwondo at the age of three. I come from a black belt family, so my father was a black belt. I have seven siblings who were all black belts and my family had great success in taekwondo because within the family five of us were national champions, three were university champions, two were African champions.
I have been to the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. So after these many years of commitment to sport, passion for sport, investing in sport, it was very important that if I made this kind of decision while I said okay, I had to make a decision. take a break and move on to another career, so it was also important to let the people who have supported me know that.
I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering and I have a Masters in Operations and Supply Chain Management, I was a first class student and the best graduate student and in two years I will be 40 years old, so i think it was also important to plan for my future to be stable in both family, financially, career wise. So since I love my sporting family very much, I thought it was very important to start this other career because I think I have a very good career in my professional path. So after eight years of being in the federation, it was very hard. I haven’t got any certification in the past eight years, that means I haven’t studied, haven’t read, and as a young man is no good I also have to try to improve my skills and personal development and that was the main one This is the reason why I said maybe after so much investment in sport I have shown so much, we have done so much that I have to leave a long time to secure my future as a young man. So I thought it was respectful to have a conversation with you guys thanking you for 21 years of solid support and also asking you to continue supporting the sport.
Plans for the FLSAC
The foundation known as the Chika Chukwumerije Sports Foundation (CCSF) is all about empowering young people. I am happy to report that the first generation of young athletes are in their final year. People like Joy, Kenneth, are in their final year at Abuja University, Elizabeth Anyanacho is in fourth year, still has one more year, others are in second year.
I have two who were recently admitted to Maiduguri University. In all, they are about, they are about 14 of them. Of course, I will continue to support them, so the Foundation isn’t really about taekwondo, it’s actually about empowering young people to be self-reliant. We are used to doing a lot of other skills acquisition… For me, it’s a better way to empower young people because at some point they have to pay their bills, and I like that a lot.
Study plans / academic retraining
I do a lot of classes, I study a few languages - Chinese, French and I will use the next year to search for a university and apply for the exam course I want to take.
It’s something I want to do for eight years, but the older you get the harder it will be because you want to get a degree. There are so many financial and real responsibilities. Of course, most of the people I care for have now grown up in college. My vision is clear, I still want to be involved in the Nigeria project. I know that I always want to help young people, I also have to develop the capacity, it forces me to develop the skills that I have.
So the coming year will give me a lot of clarity on exactly what I’m going to do. I went to three Olympics because I planned to be at three Olympics and after London 2012 in 2016 I was still the top ranked athlete. God knows if I had participated I would have qualified but my plan stopped in London so I didn’t continue. So, since I also want to quit taekwondo after the Tokyo Olympics, this is something that I have been planning for a few years, and I know that over the next year, I will be making another 15 year plan to help guide my life properly. We all agree that Nigeria can be a challenge, you have to be very knowledgeable, very resourceful, you have to be zealous and I hope the Lord will grant me everything in the next year or so.
I’m sure your parents trained you throughout school, and when you finish school, it’s time to fend for yourself. I have acquired a lot of knowledge in the sport and all they have to do is emulate, make programs, have good policies, make sure your programs are fair, that the selections are fair.
There is no athlete who will call me so that I still do not respond to his calls to supervise, to speak, that we do not make any effort. What they will likely miss is brain work. I was not used to sleeping, I spent a lot of sleepless nights writing programs, writing proposals, writing reports, so this is the time I need to recover, because I have need to learn other skills so I can’t afford that time to spend 15 hours a day sorting taekwondo stuff. So I need to spend it to build my business, prepare for my doctorate, develop my skills and just my personal development, that’s what I’m talking about.
If the media calls me at any time and tells me what your take on this or how do you think they should do this or that, it’s just a phone call, I can handle that. Even to this day, at least 10 taekwondo athletes have one problem or another. In fact yesterday one of them called me, and he was almost crying that I didn’t come back this and that, and you offer words of encouragement. Like you said I’m an Olympic medalist so you’ll also let them know that the world doesn’t start and end in one person. You have the tools to survive there for the future and that is very important. I have always been a proponent of not building around one person but rather of building the system so that the system was not yet fully formed. I wish we could have trained more people, especially for sports administration, I wish we could get sponsorship that would have reduced expenses.
Support rally for the new Nigerian Taekwondo Federation Board of Directors
Overall, I think we should give the benefit of the doubt to the new board. I’m sure they’ve learned a lot too, and let’s see how they try to implement the vision of raising more funds and doing more programs. So to answer your questions, I will be available for the athletes whenever they call me for advice. The only thing that will not be there is the technical contribution because it takes so long to train an elite athlete. You won’t believe the effort I put into it, and I need to look back on that time to focus on personal development and I hope that four to five years I will be stronger, I can offer more if I come back.
A look at Elizabeth Anyanacho
I went to her school to see how she was doing, I called her. Before going back to school she called me she was panicking about how to fit in and her surrogacy now not so good I was talking with her and I said to her look you gotta focus on school. Worried about a medal at the Olympics, I’m worried about her mental health which was my first priority and though she only competed for three years and went to the Olympics I don’t think she made it until ‘to 12 events before she qualified for the Olympics, and only two – All African Games and Olympic qualifiers were quality events. While she was qualified was evident in the quality of the program. If Nigeria wants her, it is basically to make sure that she attends tournaments, to make sure that she does not miss out on her well-being and benefits, to keep life going, she has learned a lot. . I didn’t win a medal in my first appearance, but in Beijing I won a medal so I don’t agree with that idea that they failed.
Elizabeth is a very good prospect. If she’s managed well she’ll probably do well, but she’ll also know she’s in school, she’s at level 400, so she has to deal with that as well. So the new federation just has to manage its athletes, do a lot of programs to discover new athletes and make it competitive and all that. There’s no point in telling me that’s enough. In four years after Paris, you will talk about Los Angeles, then after Los Angeles you will talk about the next one, so in fact it does not stop but I hope everything will be fine, please. We know the sport is going to take a bit of heat, but I hope a lot of people have seen it, especially the young people, and can carry the flag in the future.
More reasons to think and have more impact
I saw a video recently about the ordinary world guy the blind guy begging for guns and stocks, will you be happy if in due time I beg for guns and you refer to that time? I need to fend for myself. I never complained or did you hear me complain? No, I tried to set up a dynamic communication network among the athletes. I went to public high schools, I went there every week, nobody gave me money, I financed it myself, that’s where we found Elizabeth. She went to the Olympics. Then there were programs all over the country and often you use your own funding, for me before entering the federation maybe some federations have funding but not taekwondo. So when you enter a federation, I have already come knowing that we are going to have financial challenges and we are going to have challenges….
Better to have a Chika Chukwumerije who can really support the sport. Now I have a lot of knowledge and I use it a lot, the relationship knowledge help is there for that. But now I need the resources, not only to support the sport, but also for the development of my personal career. So I don’t know of anyone else who has made 21 years with constant investment like this and without significant support, if you know let me know. So if I were your little brother I’m sure you would say it’s the right decision. I don’t know it can be painful, but it is also a painful decision for me, but I think in the long run it will benefit the community and again all Nigerians. It’s about building the community we live in and in any way I can be of help in other areas.