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Nigerian Badminton Team on the March Again

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BY CHINWE EDOGA.

 

The portraits of Nigeria’s Anuoluwapo Opeyori and that of India’s Ritika Thaka are already adorning the official online page of the Benin Republic International Badminton which serves off on Thursday.

Both are the singles winners of the just concluded Cote d’Ivoire International which ended on Sunday. The Nigerian, as the Men’s Singles champion will certainly be getting more attention than he received when last week he got into Cote d’Ivoire unsung.

How he will cope with the pressure of not being an underdog will be seen when he takes to the courts. President-elect of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria had earlier on Channels Television said that the essence of the Nigerians featuring in the West African Circuit was to prepare them for the more challenging Lagos International which third edition holds later this month.

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The past two editions of the lucrative tournament had been dominated by foreigners. The participation at the Benin International will prepare the Nigerian players for better outing at the Lagos International.

The events at the Benin tournament are: Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles.

Holding at Hall des arts, Loisirs et Sports de Cotonou Boulevard St Michel in Cotonou, the event will run from Thursday to Sunday.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Nigeria’s Mariam Bolaji wins at 2024 Spanish Para Badminton International

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Nigeria Para Badminton star, Mariam Eniola Bolaji has won the women’s singles SL3 title at the just concluded Spanish Para Badminton International 2024 in Victoria, Spain.

The world number 10 overwhelmed world number 6 Oksana Kozyna from Ukraine 2-0 (21-13, 21-8) to clinch the gold medal over the weekend.

Bolaji had defeated world number 13 Emona Ivanova (Bulgaria) 2-0 (21-4, 21-8) to set up a clash with the 2023 silver medallist in the finals.

In round two, Mariam Bolaji defeated India’s Mandeep Kaur Mandeep, seeded number one 2-0 (21-10, 21-8). Earlier, Bolaji beat Victoria Bailey of England 2-0 (21-5, 21-4) in round one of the 2024 Spanish International.

The President, Badminton Federation of Nigeria, Francis Orbih expressed delight over the latest victory of gold medallist, Mariam Eniola Bolaji.

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Orbih said Eniola’s performance has been encouraging, adding that she has become a force in world Para Badminton.

He said, “I am excited Mariam Eniola Bolaji has won her second Spanish International since making her debut in 2021. Bolaji won her first gold medal in 2021 and made history in 2024 by winning the gold medal against highly experienced Oksana Kozyna. Kozyna (World number 6) who had a better edge looking at the statistics because she placed second in 2023 but Bolaji showed class in the final with her spectacular performance in the final.

“On behalf of the Badminton community, I want to commend Bolaji for her dedication. Determination and zeal. Her performance has been encouraging since she broke into the limelight and she has become a force to reckon with.

“The Paris Paralympic Games is fast approaching and the Federation will do everything within its powers to see that she gets adequate attention because she stands a better chance of winning a medal for Nigeria”.

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Gold, Silver And Bronze Medals Certain For Nigeria In Badminton Men’s Singles Event! –

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Anuoluwapo Opeyori Wins Nigeria’s First Gold Medal At African Games -

It is already given and merely awaiting to be stamped. Nigeria will win the two top positions of the men’s singles event of the 13th African Games’ badminton.

Thanks to the great efforts of Anuoluwapo Opeyori who defied the stiff opposition by Egypt’s Ahdam Abdelhalim to win a tough semi-final match by 2-1.

It is not the first time that Opeyori will overcome the Egyptian in the same fashion of coming from a game behind.

He did it in 2020 at the third place match of the African Championship at the Cairo Stadium Hall 2.

By his current performance, Opeyori has set up a final match with his compatriot and usual doubles partner, Godwin Olofua in the final match later in the day.

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What a dramatic event! The match-up is a repeat of the All African championship held in Port Harcourt in 2019 when the duo played the final match.

For Olofua who is Qatar based, this is an opportunity for him to revenge his loss to Opeyori.  Both players are well known to one another.

No matter the result, Nigeria will be the winner.

Olofua is in the title match after overcoming compatriot, Victor Ikechukwu in an all-Nigeria semi-final contest.

 

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Nigeria Shines At Badminton Championship In Cairo; Anu Retains African Title –

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Nigeria Shines At Badminton Championship In Cairo; Anu Retains African Title -

Nigeria’s team at the just concluded All Africa Senior Badminton Championship, Cairo 2024, claimed seven medals with the country’s number one badminton player, Anuoluwapo Opeyori clinching his fifth African title and the third back to back.

 

Anuoluwapo had earlier won the All Africa Senior Championships Men’s Singles title in Port Harcourt, Nigeria in 2019, the All Africa Games MS title in Morocco in 2019, the All Africa Senior Championships MS title in Uganda 2022, the All Africa Senior Championships in South Africa 2023 and now in Egypt 2024.

 

Nigeria’s male team  in the team event narrowly lost to Algeria in the Finals even after securing the first two of five games, thereby settling for Silver. The Women’s team picked a valuable bronze after losing the Semifinals to the Ugandan Women’s team.

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In the Individual event, Nigeria’s Wonder Boy, Anuoluwapo Opeyori stormed through to the finals by beating compatriot Victor Ikechukwu 21-13, 19-21, 21-9 to rekindle an old rivalry with Mauritian Georges Julien Paul where he again asserted his dominance by beating Paul 23-21, 11-21, 21-16 to take the coveted MS crown for the third time in a row and his fifth African title.

 

The relatively new pair of Yunusa Momoh Godwin Olofua did the country proud by beating Mauritius players, Melvin Appiah and Tejraj Pultoo 21-17, 21-15 to reach the Finals. They were, however, unable to subdue the duo of Africa’s number one pair of Algeria’s Kociela Mammeri and Sabri Medel, thereby losing 12-21, 8-21 to clinch the Silver in the Men’s Doubles event.

 

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In the Women’s Doubles, Nigeria’s Dorcas Ajoke Adesokan paired with a new partner, Sofiyat Obanishola to lose out narrowly to Ugandan’s Husina Kobugabe and Gladys Mbabazi 21-18, 19-21, 18-21 after fighting gallantly in the Semifinals to get a spot on the podium for the bronze medal.

 

In the Mixed Doubles event, yet another fresh pair of Aliyu Alhaji Shehu and Deborah Ukeh-Divine lost the Semifinal match to home team of Adham Hatem Gamel and Doha  Hany of Egypt 9-21, 12-21 (0-2) to take the bronze medal for their efforts.

 

In all, Nigeria was able to take home an impressive  total of 1 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze medals for relatively new pairs in all the doubles categories.

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President of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria, Francis Orbih,Esq, expressed his appreciation for the performance of the Team Nigeria contingent and lamented the loss in the Finals of the Men’s Team events.

 

“We were so close after getting the first 2 games in our favour, but we understand that in games as in life, anything can happen. We are grateful to and appreciative of our players and their performances”, Francis said.

 

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He also appreciated the Hon. Minister for Sport Development, Hon John Enoh for the Ministry’s support for the team.

 

He promised that the board would continue to support  players in all categories and at all levels.

 

Francis further stressed the plans of the badminton  board to immediately resume preparations for the upcoming badminton event at All Africa Games holding in Ghana from the 3rd to 10th March 2024.

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