by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Both African and European players are looking forward to returning next year, all pleased with welcome received and the atmosphere experienced.
South Africa’s Theo Cogill, who negotiated the qualification stage of the Men’s Singles event before losing to the host nation’s Makanjuola Kazeem, is most enthusiastic about returning.
“I cannot wait return to Lagos next year. I have never attended such a well-organised and crowd pulling table tennis tournament, particularly in Africa. The people were very friendly and the atmosphere in the hall was awesome. I did not expect to go far but I made it to the first round amidst a high quality of players.” Theo Cogill
Similarly, Hungary’s Bernadett Balint, winner of the Women’s Doubles title in partnership with colleague Szandra Pergel, was delighted; she described her experience as memorable.
“I liked the tournament because the people like table tennis so much. Also the African players were good, they tried their best. It was my first time in Nigeria. It was a difficult tournament but I would like to come here again because I have good memories.” Bernadett Balint.
A most positive reaction from the Women’s Doubles champion; it was the same from the Men’s Doubles gold medallist, Frenchman Antoine Hachard who partnered compatriot, Gregoire Jean to success.
“Playing in the Nigeria Open was a wonderful experience because of the atmosphere and the connection with the public; it was something unbelievable. I think the African players are different in terms of qualities and physical attributes. Most importantly, the atmosphere was great; it is not the same in Europe. The atmosphere is Lagos is unique.” Antoine Hachard
A pleased Antoine Hachard but if one player had the right to be pleased it was India’s Sarthak Gandhi, the player who excelled all expectations to finish in runners up spot in the Men’s Singles event.
“I don’t think I have never seen a crowd that gives the players so much support. They showed an understanding of the game; this inspires players to give their best. It is my first time in Africa and I will be willing to come back again to Lagos next year.” Sarthak Gandhi
Here’s to Nigeria, Lagos, the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall and 2018!