by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Member Relations Media Officer
Akanbi, whose inconsistency had seen his national rating drop, worked his way to the top of the order, after edging out title contenders Amadi Omeh and Azeez Solanke, before finally ending the unbeaten run of Taiwo Mati from Ondo to emerge as the new national champion.
The former Asoju Oba champion wasn’t considered a major title contender, having performed poorly at the 20th National Sports Festival in Edo as well at the Aso Cup in Abuja. However, at the weekend, a series of good performances saw him lift the coveted trophy and a cheque for ₦ 250,000.00 (US$ 680.00).
In the title decider, Akanbi was forced to recover from 2-0 down to overcome Mati (7-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9) on his way to securing the title.
“I am so delighted to win this title because nobody considered me as a title contender having lost form in the last three years, but I think I played my best in this competition and my opponent in the final was a familiar foe to me, having beaten him in our last two meetings before today’s final. I hope to continue to raise my game hopefully to get myself into the national team.” Rilwa Akanbi
Meanwhile, in the women’s singles, Bello the winner in the two most recent tournaments, continued her reign as the best female player in the country. In the final she recorded a convincing win against Bose Odusanya (15-13, 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 11-1).
Ondo and G20 won the highest number of medals in the 12 events that involved 18 states and 18 clubs comprising 300 players!
Continuing his support to young players, Quadri Aruna also provided kit sponsorship to four cadet players: Matthew Kuti of Lagos, Kwara’s Matthew Fabunmi, Cross River’s Hope Uduaka and Kogi’s Ize Sezuo. They will be supported by the African champion for one year.
The tournament was organised by Nigerian Table Tennis Federation in collaboration with the Lagos State Sports Commission; amongst others, support being received from Baba Ijebu Bet and Prime Atlantic.