Last year, Nigeria was welcomed into the World Curling Federation (WCF) after becoming the first African country to win a match at the world championships, defeating France 8-5. Now, Demola Daniel, president of the Nigerian Curling Federation (NCF), has insisted the Olympics are the next step and told a Nigerian sports outlet that the national team is “battle-ready.”

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“During the lockdown, we have been on Zoom meetings, strategizing, watching video clips of other strong opponent countries, so we are prepared and fully ready,” Daniel was quoted as saying.

But as you might expect, the team is no stranger to overcoming difficulties. In an interview with the BBC last year, Tijani Cole, who along with his Canadian wife Susana Cole helped form the team, said that the number one challenge was ice.

 “We have an abundance of enthusiasm and an abundance of athleticism, but what we don’t have is ice,” he said. As a result, the team ended up practicing a lot of “dry curling.”

Daniel says that an Olympic placement would put Nigeria on the world map, but the team will have to work hard to achieve it, competing against the WCF 61 member nations, from which only ten will qualify for the Winter Olympic games. May still compete as neutrals, that is not the case for individual athletes who have been banned for doping. For example, Aleksandr Krushelnitskiy and his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova, were forced to give back their 2018 PyeongChang bronze medals in mixed doubles curling after testing positive for meldonium, a heart disease drug that can also be used to improve physical and mental performance. 

Recently, however, the Russian Curling Federation (RCF) President Dmitry Svishchev indicated that this will not be the end for Krushelnitskiy, stating that he would continue his career after the ban. Krushelnitskiy has previously said that, although he accepts the ban, he maintains that he did not intentionally dope. Similar claims have been made by other athletes who claim that they took the drug for medical reasons.

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Meanwhile, in the Summer Olympics news, the UK has deemed it safe for Olympic athletes to return to training as long as they are competing under the British flag. For British-born gymnast Danusia Francis, who plans on competing in Winter Olympic in 2021, that kind of inequity won’t cut it.

According to Tunisia, her country mates in the US have already resumed training along with American athletes, and she sees no reason why things should differ for Great Britain. I hope the UK can change these rules as soon as possible, she told the Jamaican Observer.

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