by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Notably the 15 year old had participated in an intensive ten day preparation programme but was unable to compete in the 2017 ITTF African Junior and Cadet Championships for financial reasons.
Deeply concerned Wahid Oshodi, the President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation came to the rescue and arranged the travel of Azeez Solanke and Esther Oribamise to the North African nation in order to compete in the qualification tournament.
Esther Oribamise spoke to Olalekan Okusan, the ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Winning the African Youth Olympic Games qualifiers was great proof that if I had participated in the Africa Championships, I would have performed very well. I believe the training with my coach coupled with the training we had during the national camp was the main motivation for me.
I believe that winning this title serves as a great motivation for my teammates; other countries are not better than us. It is also a confirmation that we can do it and we are definitely going to do it.
It was a great pain for us as a team because the World Junior Championships is the only championship that gives Nigerian junior players a chance to test their might against foreign counterparts. So for us to have missed the qualification, it means there will not any major competitions for us this year; this is not too encouraging with all the training we have put into our preparation..
The moment we were told that we would not be going to Tunis was a very sad moment for the entire team but we just have to pull ourselves together and hope for better days ahead.
Even if I stop playing table tennis after the Youth Olympic Games, I already have what could be referred to as a good and detailed record, just like my compatriot, Ojo Onaolapo, who competed in the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games.
I believe for me to make impact at the Youth Olympic Games, I need to train well and prepare very well in advance; this is necessary to boost my performance in Argentina.
My appeal to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and even sponsors is that they should give more support and encouragement to the Nigerian table tennis players. It is an open secret that table tennis is one of the sports that has been lifting the country globally; especially at the African Championships. The excellent performance of the athletes is not well compensated by those in charge of sport. We are indeed pleading for more support as the country is blessed with abundant talents in table tennis.
The President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation has been very supportive to all the players. He has taken all of us as his own, while the support and encouragement he has been giving us is more than what a father could render to his children.
My prayer for him is just that the Lord should bless him, so that he will be able to do more for the players and the game at large.