Elizabeth Anyanacho is the first Nigerian woman in 16 years to qualify for the Olympics in taekwondo ©NTF

Nigerian taekwondo athlete Elizabeth Anyanacho has switched her focus from preparing for Paris 2024 to Tokyo 2020 after qualifying for the next Olympic Games and credits the sport with giving her more confidence.

The 21-year-old is the first Nigerian woman to qualify for the Olympics in taekwondo in 16 years after Princess Dudu became the nation's first female Olympian in the sport at Athens 2004.

Nigeria did not qualify an athlete in taekwondo in 2016.

Chika Chukwumerije, who won Nigeria's only Olympic medal in the sport to date with a bronze at Beijing 2008, has been mentoring future talents in the country including Anyanacho, who will be 22 by the time the Games are scheduled to begin in 2021, having been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Anyanacho started practicing taekwondo at 16 after first trying athletics as a high and long jumper, before Chukwumerije identified her potential.

Chukwumerije told the Olympic Channel: "In 2015, I went to the stadium to scout for tall boys and girls, her body structure fits the body of a taekwondo athlete.

"She had never done sport in her life."

However, Anyanacho's father was not keen on his daughter competing in a sport that was not popular in the country.

Anyanacho explained: "Sometimes my dad questioned whether I really liked it, I think it was because he wanted me to do basketball.

"He only allowed me to stay in the sport when he saw I was making progress and I was getting good at it."

After winning her first competition in Ghana in 2017, her focus shifted towards the Olympics, with Chukwumerije declaring that Anyanacho could possibly qualify for Tokyo rather than Paris.

"When I watched her in Ghana, she had so much raw talent, I decided we could scale back her plan by three or four years if she worked hard," Chukwumerije said.

After securing bronze at the 2019 African Games, she defeated Rio 2016 Olympian and 2015 African Games champion Urgence Mouega of Gabon to secure a Tokyo 2020 place at the qualifying event in Morocco.

Anyanacho added to the Olympic Channel: "I am still yet to digest that, with time I will understand the true realisation of what I did.

"It is a big achievement for me, if I didn't have the feeling that I am going to do good I wouldn't have been on that platform.

"I could see that I can be among the best and do what the best of Africa are doing.

"Taekwondo has given me confidence, exposed me to different cultures and I have made friends from all over.

"I would not have had all these opportunities if it weren't for taekwondo."

Only four Nigerian taekwondo players have reached the Olympics since it became a medal event in 2000.