by Olalekan Okudan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Focus on the cadet events, Jamiu Ayanwale, Taiwo Mati, Rafiat Jimoh, Sukurat Aiyelabegan and Iyanuoluwa Falana are the players in question.
Jamiu Ayanwale and Taiwo Mati join the more experienced Azeez Solanke, Abayomi Animasahun, and Amadi Umeh in the boys’ team; Rafiat Jimoh, Sukurat Aiyelabegan and Iyanuoluwa Falana line up alongside Tosin Oribamise and Agnes Onoja in the girls’ team.
Notably Azeez Solanke and Agnes Onoja both competed in the Sun International 2016 World Junior Championships in Cape Town.
According to Nigerian Table Tennis Federation, the selection was based on recent performances as well as the efforts made at the just concluded Olufunke Oshonaike Top 16 Championships held in Lagos.
The ITTF African Junior and Cadet Championships acts as a qualification tournament for the 2017 World Junior Championships to be staged in Riva del Garda, Italy, from Sunday 26th November to Sunday 3rd December.
Furthermore, Azeez Solanke and Tosin Oribamise will represent Nigeria in the Youth Olympic Games Continental Qualification tournament which will follow immediately the ITTF African Junior and Cadet Championships. The two day event will be held on Sunday 16th and Monday 17th April.
The target for the aspiring African players is to emulate the achievement of Tunisia’s Adem Hmam; at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games he won Mixed Team bronze in partnership with China’s Gu Yuting
“Africa made it to the podium at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore 2010 and this time around we are hoping that we can get players and teams that will also return to the podium in 2018. For the qualifiers, the players will be drawn into groups in the first round with the top two players advancing to the second round of knockout. The finalists in the boys’ and girls’ events will automatically qualify for the Youth Olympic Games”, Khaled El-Salhy, President African Table Tennis Federation.
The Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games will be held from Saturday 6th October to Thursday 18th October.