Rilwan Akanbi and Fatima Bello have emerged winners of the men’s singles and women’s singles events at the 2021 International Table Tennis Federation Western Region Championship in the best of seven games.
Akanbi emerged the new regional champion in the Men’s Singles event after he defeated his counterpart, Azeez Solanke, 4-3, while Bello also won 4-0 against her opponent, Aminat Fashola.
In the Women’s Doubles, Fatimo Bello and Bose Odusanya set a new tournament record after beating Hope Uduak and Vivian Oku, while in the Men’s Doubles, Amadi Omeh and Etim Orok defeated the Ghanaian pair of Derek Abrefa and Emmanuel Commey 3-2, in the finals of the best of five games.
The four-day tournament ended on Thursday evening at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere.
Singles’ champion, Akanbi attributed his victory to hard work and rigorous training.
“I am so excited, and I feel good winning this tournament because I have never believed I can.
“Though I trained for it, and when the defending champion lost out, I challenged myself to win the tournament.
“I believe it is God that crowned my success, but I trained really hard for this tournament,’’ he said, adding that he exploited his opponent’s weakness to defeat him.
“Playing against Solanke was not an easy task because he is also a good player, but I am glad I won," he said.
Fatima Bello said that the just concluded tournament had been the toughest she has ever participated in.
“This one is tougher and more challenging than the last edition, but I am glad I was able to retain my title,” she said.
The Secretary General, ITTF Africa Western Region, Germain Karou, said the tournament was a huge success considering the quality of the organisation, adding, “I am impressed with what Nigeria has put up, particularly the standard of play from the players.
“We hope and believe Nigeria will continue to lead the region so that others can come up and compete favourably with them at continental and global levels,” he said.
Enitan Oshodi, Deputy President, Africa Table Tennis Federation, said he was glad that the junior players were working hard to take over from the seniors.
“Our junior players are the strongest in Africa and this tournament was a good test for them. In particular, I am really proud of these players because they have done well.
“There are spaces in the senior national team but, hopefully, they can continue this way these players have shown they can step into the shoes of Aruna Qudari , Jide Omotayo,” he said.
Oshodi noted that some junior players would be representing the country very well in the future with the way they played.
“ I am really proud of the women, especially Hope Uduak. Anytime I tell the media a player is going to become a big star, just watch out.
“This girl is going to be big like Funke Oshonaike, she’s got everything and I think Nigeria is on the right track now,” he said.
Nasiru Bello, the National Table Tennis Coach said that he was impressed with the players, as Nigeria won all the medals at stake in the seven events of the tournament.
“ Both girls and boys really performed very well. We are really happy that a tournament of seven events was hosted in Nigeria and we won all the medals.
“ This shows that all that we are teaching , they really put it into play,” he said.