yanacho started competing in her first major taekwondo tournament in 2017 and has since won several tournaments. In 2020, the 21-year-old became the first Nigerian female taekwondo athlete to qualify for the Olympic Games in 16 years. “It was [a] great joy because we achieved one part of the plan that was conceived five years ago,” she says.

Her taekwondo lessons have helped her learn confidence off the mat. Ayanacho asks questions in class. She leads to in-class projects. “He’s really had a big impact on me,” says Ayanacho. “He [has] taught me how to stand out in the crowd. He has taught me how to approach [challenging] situations.”

There’s perhaps no more challenging circumstance than the COVID-19 crisis — and having to wait another year to compete in the Olympics. For Lizzy, it will be worth the wait. “It’s a great joy,” she says. “I get to be among one of the persons serving my country.”