Gambia won a trophy at the 8th ECOWAS traditional wrestling tournament which ended in Dakar, Senegal on the night of the 14th of May 2017.
The three-Day keenly contested tournament, which held at a full capacity Iba Mar Diop stadium, also saw top wrestlers win various prizes as individual performers in all of the weight categories.
Sixty-five wrestlers in five weight categories, drawn from 14 ECOWAS member States, took part in the tournament which featured 90 and 55 fights in team and individual events respectively. Four wrestlers were disqualified for weight violations.
Assan Joof of The Gambia who emerged winner in the 75 kg category, pushing Celestino B. Dafa (Guinée Bissau) and Oumar Diouane (Sénégal) to second and third.
Beside The Gambia, Senegal, Niger and Nigeria also won trophies.
The Senegalese team emerged overall winner of the contests which began with the preliminary stages on the of 12th of May after defeating Niger 4-1 in the finals of the team event, carting home three of the five gold medals and trophies available in the five individual weight categories.
In the 66 kilogram (Kg) category, Senegal’s Mousa Faye beat Alimiyaou Mahamadou (Niger) and Jata Ceesay (The Gambia) to the second and third positions respectively.
Niger claimed the top prize in the 86 Kg category through Tassiou Ibrahim, while Zon Drissa (Burkina Faso) and Bibo Melwin (Nigeria) were second and third.
In the 100 kg category, Mouhamadou Moustapha of Senegal gained victory over Babacar Mboge (The Gambia) and Robert Daufa (Nigeria) who took the silver and bronze medals respectively.
The big trophy in the 120kg category went to strongman Omar Kane of Sénégal, while Dam Sallah of The Gambia emerged runner up, leaving the bronze medal for Togolese Tchalim Essorouram.
Beside the trophies and cash awards, the wrestlers were presented gold, silver and bronze medals by officials from the ECOWAS Commission, the Senegalese government, the diplomatic community in Senegal, and representatives of corporate sponsors.
The ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Aminata Dia Sow expressed satisfaction with the impact made so far by the tournament, which she noted is also helping ECOWAS to realize its integration goals.
The Senegalese Minister of Sports Mr. Matar Ba said among others that the use of sporting activities such as the ECOWAS traditional wresting tournament to unite the region represents a positive development that should be sustained.
On the margins of the tournament, two experts- Dr. Mohammed Diop, head of the Senegalese national anti-doping agency and Mr. Aliou Issoufou, secretary general of the regional anti-doping agency based in Niamey, Republic of Niger, made useful presentations at a workshop meant to enlighten stakeholders on the issues of discipline and the effect of doping in sports.
With an apt drama and speeches, further insights were given to the effects of doping such as its devastation of the mental, emotional and reproductive health of athletes. The host wrestling federation, the Senegalese Comite National de Gestion de la Lutte (CNL) also used the opportunity to give recognitions and awards to various participants and partners, including the only female coach and referee at the tournament, Ghana’s Cynthia Dotsey and Togo’s Niko Kourkou respectively, for their contributions to the development of the sport.
The 2017 edition of the ECOWAS traditional wrestling tournament also revealed a gradual shift of dominance with medalists emerging in all categories outside of the traditional winning countries.