Igali works to make his dreams come true

February 24, 2005, vol. 32, no. 4
By Marianne Meadahl

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The remainder of 2005 promises interesting times for Daniel Igali. The Olympic wrestler and SFU student is never shy of goals.

This year several of them will culminate, including the opening of a new school in his home village of Eniwari, Nigeria this fall, the completion of his master's degree in criminology before year's end and, if successful, the securing of a seat in the provincial legislature as a Liberal MLA this spring.

Achieving those targets would fulfill dreams beyond the one he has already realized, that of winning an Olympic goal medal in 2000.

“The school is fast becoming a reality,” says Igali, who, during a five-week visit home in January, spent much of his time at the site monitoring its daily progress. Igali raised $450,000 for the project. “Knowing the impediments with regards to the rain, floods and the terrain, I am quite comfortable with the progress so far,” he says. The main classroom block is now at the roofing stage, while the administrative block and the library and computer room structures are nearly completed.

Igali says the plan is for the school to be fully built by May and furnished (he is still raising funds for furniture, computers and other equipment) by October. He's hoping to return to Nigeria for an opening ceremony in November or December. “I am really elated at the shape the school has taken over the last year,” he adds. “I am confident that the school will be finished by the fall and I cannot wait to see that day.”

By mid-fall he also hopes to put the finishing touches on his academic career by completing his master's degree at SFU - though he admits the spring election will slow things down. His area of study has been international relations, with a focus on terrorism in Nigeria's Niger Delta. He anticipated wide-ranging career options would follow, but those plans have suddenly become more streamlined, as he heads down the campaign trail this spring toward the political arena.

“I'm in a position to give something back to a country, province and constituency that have been very good to me,” he told a news conference of his decision to enter politics.

A man of great energy and determination, he says politics should be a good fit. He will work to stay active in the sport that has brought him world attention, though he says his constituents would come first. “It will be a different kind of wrestling match,” he told reporters.

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