by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Present on the concluding day of action was Akinwunmi Ambode, the Lagos State Governor, understandably he was delighted with the efforts of Quadri Aruna, assuring everyone that in 2019, the government would support an even bigger edition of the tournament.
Moreover, the outstanding Nigerian players at this year’s event were rewarded by Akinwunmi Ambode. Notably, Quadri Aruna, the winner of the Men’s Singles event, received an additional US$ 2,800.00.
Furthermore, Nigerian players, who reached the quarter-final stage of an event, each received US$ 2,800.00, whilst those who reached the last 16 received US$ 70.00 each.
“This was a major improvement from last year’s competition; for the very first time in the last six years, we found a Nigerian winning the Men’s Singles, this brings a lot of excitement for me because I have been supporting table tennis and I know that next year’s tournament will be more exciting. As a government, we are going to put in more support; we will put more financial support so that we can attract more people and also encourage more Nigerians to participate. You know we actually gave a bonus to Nigerians that performed well; this is also to encourage more of our own local players to compete internationally.” Akinwunmi Ambode
Impressed with the organisation and the huge crowd that graced the competition this year; the Governor, wearing a blue track suit, assured that the Lagos State Government would put efforts in place to host the tournament next year in a bigger hall to encourage greater participation. Also, he added that the programmes of his administration for sports development in the State were on course.
“We have a master programme to encourage sports in Lagos State; people will see it unfolding. You can see that we are reconstructing the popular Onikan Stadium; we are looking to Ajegunle, for another Sports Complex. I don’t want to over promise but I can assure that next year, we are going to hold this table tennis tournament in a bigger hall that can take 16 tables at the same time and also take maybe about 5,000 fans at the same time.” Akinwunmi Ambode.
Notably present alongside Akinwunmi Ambode, further dignitaries were Ishaku Tioko (President, Nigeria Table Tennis Federation), Olabanji Oladapo (African Table Tennis Federation Vice President), Toyin Okenla-Ojeaga (former player), Kweku Tandoh (Tournament Director, Executive (Chair, Lagos State Sports Commission) and Babatunde Bank-Anthony Director General (Lagos State Sports Commission).
The fair play award went to Quadri Aruna while Jamiu Ayanwale was named the best Nigerian home grown player of the tournament, each was rewarded with cash gift of $200.00.
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