Men’s singles top seed, Aruna Quadri retained his title, defeating Austria’s Robert Gardos in the final of the Interhational Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Challenge Plus – Nigeria Open which was concluded recently.
Quadri’s triumph capped another remarkable tournament of excitement for table tennis in Lagos and Nigeria, an event that has become a reference of the development of the sport in Africa.
Ranked number 22 in the world, Quadri was in peak form as he defeated world number 64 in a thrilling six games 15-13, 11-3, 8-11, 11-6, 10-12, 11-1 much to the delight of partisan home supporters at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Having won the tournament in 2018, Quadri successfully defended the title to equal the record solely held by Egyptian Omar Assar who won back-to-back Nigeria Open titles in 2014 and 2015.
Speaking during the closing ceremony, the Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr. Kweku Tandoh, who also doubles as the tournament director, said the ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open was the third tournament held in Lagos in as many days and the State benefited so much from hosting the championships.
In his words, “For us in Lagos State, it’s been 11 days of exciting Table tennis and the benefits are there for us to see. The exposure for our own athletes because we have 20 players from Lagos that registered to play from the qualifiers.
The economic benefits are not in doubt at all; you can see how much business has been going around, not just around the stadium alone but the hotels, transport agencies and so on”.
“Again the capacity building this tournament has built for us, our staff at the Lagos State Sports commission organising the international event will definitely help to develop them. Every year, we hope to keep improving in the various areas of organising events and this experience has added so much more to us in that regard”, Tandoh said.
On his part, the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Barrister Wahid Enitan Oshodi, diaclosed that the record entries of players from 28 countries has made the Nigeria Open one of the top events on the International Table Tennis Federation calendar.
The former Commissioner for Youth, Sports and Social Development in the State commended the support of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in ensuring that Lagos staged another successful event.
He said: “Lagos is where the heart of Nigeria sports and the State is doing so much supporting sports events, be it the marathon, the international classics across different sports, supporting the federations, the association, developing and promoting local sports. Hosting international tournaments like this, is how to build the tourism base and improve the economy of the State”.
Others winners in the just concluded challenge include Nuytinck Cedric and Robinot Quentin who defeated Nigeria’s duo of Toriola Segun and Omotayo Olajide in a straight 3-0 to win the men’s doubles event while Polina and Yana won the Women’s doubles event after beating Croatia duo of Jazbec Ida and Malobabic Ivana.
The African Club Championship and the Africa Cup qualifiers for the ITTF World Cup are the other events held in Lagos recently.