Tokyo bound Elizabeth Anyanacho is set to lose a full semester at the University over the upcoming Tokyo 2020 summer Olympics, holding between 23 July and 8 August 2021.
The University has thrown its weight behind Elizabeth Anyanacho’s participation at the summer games after it approved the semester withdrawal request from Nigeria’s second ever female to qualify for the Olympics in Taekwondo after Princess Dudu at the Athens 2004 Olympics.
On 29th March 2021, the 22-year-old Elizabeth who is currently a 300 level Statistics student of the Federal University of University Owerri (FUTO) had submitted an application to withdraw from the second semester, citing her preparations for the Tokyo Olympics, which required her to put in long daily hours of training over months.
In the application to the FUTO Vice Chancellor Prof. Francis Eze routed through the Statistics Head of Department Dr C.C Nwaigwe and further through her Course Adviser Mr Elechi Onyemachi, Elizabeth appealed for support to enable her to compete at the Olympics without harming her academic progress.
“It is with a deep sense of gratitude that I wish to remind you of my historic qualification for the Tokyo Olympics and seek the support of the department with regards to my tests, exams and attendance during my preparation period.”
“Consequently, I only seek the University support, under your able leadership, to enable me withdraw from the 2019/2020 rain semester so to achieve combined sporting and academic excellence.” she wrote.
Speaking on the approval from the University, Elizabeth Anyanacho thanked the University authorities for the explicit support.
“I want to sincerely thank our Vice Chancellor, the Head of our Department and my Course Adviser for this good news. From bottom to the top, the support has been very helpful and I am pleased that I can now focus on the Olympics without worrying about losing a year in school or having it affect my grades.” she added
In 2004, FUTO gave similar approval to Elizabeth’s current trainer and Beijing 2008 Olympic medalist, Chika Chukwumerije, who was studying Mechanical Engineering at the University while preparing for his maiden Olympic appearance at the Athens 2004 Olympics.
Sports athletes in Nigeria universities usually undergo a lot of stress to combine education and sports, requiring great discipline and time management skills as well as support from the university system to successfully scale through the tasking combination.
Elizabeth, who is the first Nigerian female in 16 years to qualify for the Olympics in Taekwondo, will be counting on similar support when she returns from Tokyo Olympics to meet a new FUTO Chancellor, Prof. Nnenna Oti, who is the first ever female vice-chancellor elected in the University since its founding in 1980.