A visibly pregnant Nigerian athlete has clinched a gold medal at the ongoing National Sports Festival, securing gold in the multi-sport event, which happens every two years in the country.
Aminat Idrees, 26, who is eight months pregnant, won in the Mixed Poomsae category in Taekwondo, organizers said Monday, describing her achievements as “inspiring.”
Idrees, who could be seen in a footage shared on Twitter demonstrating different combat techniques, also picked up other medals in a non-combat simulated category of Taekwondo known as Poomsae.
Idrees told CNN Wednesday that she feels elated by her accomplishment at the event which took place in Edo State.
“It’s such a privilege for me. I just decided to give it a try after training a couple of times… It feels really good,” she said.
“Before I got pregnant, I have always enjoyed training, so it didn’t seem different with pregnancy,” Idrees added.
However, not everyone has found her participation in the games inspiring.
Some have criticized her for taking part in the sport because of her advanced stage of pregnancy.
One Twitter user, Iga Moore, wrote: “This (is) rather sickening than Inspiring.”
While another commenter, Angela, said: “This is how they get themselves into problems and stress maternity staff for preventable problems.”
But others defended her involvement in the sports festival.
“I love the way she made the sequencing so easy to the eyes. Awesome performance. Let those with the ignorant comments bury their heads in shame. Poomsae is not a fight but a tactical combination of movements against imaginary attacks,” said Twitter user Tope Adebayo.
Idrees said many of her critics are unaware of the various forms of Taekwondo.
“A lot of people don’t understand what Taekwondo is actually about. I feel this is an avenue to educate people about this. Taekwondo has two branches: the combat sport and Poomsae – which is a form of exercise…just displaying the hand and leg techniques in Taekwondo. I participated in Poomsae event,” she told CNN.
“I felt there wasn’t much risk attached to it, so I decided to give it a try. My doctor, as well as the organizing body of the games certified me fit to participate in the non-contact sport,” the expectant mother added.
In a statement sent to CNN Wednesday afternoon, the chairman of the organizing committee of this year’s National Sports Festival, Philip Shaibu, said Idrees was allowed to participate in the games after medical examination.
“She was certified and cleared to participate. She had also been training for months prior to her participation in the tournament,” Shaibu said.