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Ambode Gives Badminton a Boost

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The Lagos International Badminton Classics, the biggest badminton competition in Africa has received a further boost from the governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode.

According to Francis Orbih, the chairman of the Lagos State Badminton Association and President-elect of Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN), the Lagos

State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has raised the prize money for the third edition of the competition from $15,000 to $20,000.

Coincidentally, the first sporting outing of Governor Ambode when he assumed office in 2015 was the attendance of the maiden edition of the classics.

The third edition is scheduled to commence on July 26, five days after Francis Orbih would have assumed office as the president of the BFN. The tournament will run through to July 29.

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Francis Orbih said at a press conference in Lagos on Thursday that Ambode lived up to his promise after attending the second edition of the event in 2015.

“The governor attended the last classics, which had $15,000 as prize money and promised to increase the money; that is why we have $20,000 as the new prize money for the event, which is the biggest in Africa, thanks to the governor,” Orbih stated.

He added that winners in the men and women’s singles categories would pocket $2,200 each, while runners-up get $1,175. Winners and runners-up in the doubles events would also get cash prizes as well as players who reached various stages of the classics.

Players from 11 countries namely Israel, India, Italy, Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana, Benin Republic, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Portugal and hosts Nigeria are expected to compete at the event, which has been moved from Rowe Park to the Molade Okoya-Thomas indoor sports of the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.

Former champion and world number 50 Israel’s Misha Zilberman is the highest ranked player at the classics while Nigeria’s highest ranked players are Habeeb Bello (299) and Clement Krobakpor (313).

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Chairman Lagos State Sports Commission Deji Tinubu said a major reason for the hosting of the event was to help Nigerian players improve in the rankings and also to showcase the rich culture of Lagos.

“The rankings of our players will remain down if they don’t go out to play or we don’t create an event like this that is certified by the world body for them to compete.

“That is why we must commend the Lagos State Badminton Association for organising this classics, which is also meant to display the excellence of the state,” Tinubu stated.

Meanwhile, emerging youngster Anuoluwapo Opeyori, winner of the 2017 Cote d’Ivoire International Futures Series, says he’s prepared to give the big players a run for their money at the Lagos classics.

The 20-year-old said, “I expect to get to the highest level at the event and that is winning it. I have seen the big players play before, and they are beatable. I’m prepared for the challenge”.

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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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Badminton

Two Nigerians pick Paris 2024 Paralympics tickets in para badminton

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The duo of Mariam Eniola Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie have qualified for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games coming up from 28th August to 8th September.

According to the Badminton World Federation, Multiple African Champion, Mariam Bolaji will represent Nigeria in the Women’s Singles Standing Lower 3 (SL3) while Jeremiah Chigozie represents Nigeria in the Men’s Singles Standing Lower 4 (SL4).

An elated Francis Orbih, President of Badminton Federation of Nigeria said the qualification of Mariam Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie is a testimony of hard work, consistency and perseverance.

Orbih who was full of joy revealed that Nigeria stands a good chance to make history by winning medals in para badminton in her debut appearance.

He said, “Today, history has been made as two players for the first time will be representing Nigeria in the para badminton event at the Paralympic Games. I am full of joy because the sacrifices of the players and the Federation were not in vain.

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“Mariam Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie have consistently attended the African Championship winning gold medals in the singles and doubles events. Last month, Mariam Bolaji won two gold medals at the Spanish Internationals in Victoria and Toledo putting her in a better position to make it to the Paralympics; which has become a reality.

“With adequate camping, foreign tours and proper funding, I believe Nigeria will win a medal in the Para Badminton event when we make our debut this year”.

Orbih once again, called on well meaning individuals to support the Badminton Federation of Nigeria in ensuring the athletes get maximum support ahead of the Olympic/Paralympic Games in Paris next August.

He said, “I will not get tired of calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria and the private sector to key into our brand and give more support to the Badminton Federation of Nigeria. We have athletes who are marketable and will sell their brands to the world with their sterling performances”.

Mariam Eniola Bolaji shocked the world by winning her first gold medal at the Spanish Para badminton International 2021 beating Oksana Kozyna from Ukraine.

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Bolaji won the women’s singles SL3 at the Uganda Para Badminton International 2023, All African Para Badminton Championship 2023 (Doubles and Mixed Doubles).

She won gold medals at the 5th Fazza Dubai Para Badminton International 2023, Egypt Para Badminton International 2024, World Para Badminton Championship 2024 in Thailand and Spanish Para Badminton International 2024.

Bolaji is also the first African player to be ranked among the top 10 in the BWF world rankings as she is currently ranked number 5 in the world.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah Chigozie won bronze medal at the Uganda Para Badminton International 2023 and three gold medals at African Para Badminton Championship 2023

He played a lesser number of championships compared to Eniola; playing in Egypt, Dubai, and World Championship in Thailand.

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Chigozie got to the quarter finals in the men’s singles SL4 category in Thailand and currently ranked number 16 in the recent BWF para Badminton ranking.

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Badminton gospel spreads to Nigeria Middle Belt region as Makurdi takes its turn

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Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN) in conjunction with its partner, Community Sport and Educational Development (CSED) Initiative, has organized a three-day Shuttle Time Teachers Course at Markurdi, Benue State.

The course ran from 25th and 27th of April, 2024.

Twenty four teachers and games masters as well as mistresses participated in the course that involved 18 schools and 75 students.

The three-day training involved both the practical and theory aspects of badminton skills which were taught by the Coordinator and Tutor of the course, Suleiman Tajudeen.

The teachers in turn  taught the students what they learnt and this was used as a means of assessment.

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As it had always been, the participating schools were given Badminton equipment such as rackets, badminton nets and shuttles courtesy of CSED as a support to the schools.

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Para Badminton: Bolaji makes history, wins another gold medal in Spain

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Nigeria Para Badminton player, Mariam Bolaji has won a gold medal to make history at the Spanish Para Badminton International 2024 Level 1 tournament in Toledo, Spain.

Bolaji beat World number 5 Mandeep Kaur from India 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) to clinch the Gold medal and remain unbeaten in two Spanish Internationals in one week.

In a stunning display of skill and determination, Bolaji faced off against some of the world’s top-ranked players and emerged victorious in every match she played.

In the first round, she defeated Coraline Bergeron from France in two straight sets 2-0 (21-9, 21-17). Bolaji continued her winning streak in the second round, defeating Parul Dalsukhbhai Parmer from India 2-0 (21-9, 21-7).

In the crucial third round, Mariam faced a formidable opponent in Manasi Girishchandra Jochi, the World number 4.

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The match was intense, with both players giving it their all. In the end, Mariam emerged victorious with a 2-0 win (22-20, 21-10). With this win, Mariam secured the top spot in the group, booking her place in the semi-finals of the tournament.

Now, in the semi-final round, Mariam faced the seeded number one player in the tournament and World number 3, Halime Yildiz from Turkey. Despite the tough competition, Mariam showed her strength and determination, defeating her opponent 2-0 (21-16, 21-8). This impressive victory earned her a spot in the much-anticipated final match.

The President of Badminton Federation of Nigeria, Francis Orbih said Bolaji has proven that her feat in Victoria a week ago was not a fluke.

Orbih also emphasised the importance of supporting and investing in athletes like Eniola, who continue to excel and bring honour to the country on the global stage.  

He said, “She has proven herself to be a formidable competitor and a force to be reckoned with. Her dedication, hard work, and talent have earned her this well-deserved win, and we are incredibly proud of her achievements.”

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He highlighted the need for more resources, training facilities, and opportunities for para badminton players in Nigeria, so that they can reach their full potential and compete at the highest level.

“Eniola’s victory is not only a personal triumph for her, but also a victory for Nigeria and for the sport of para badminton. It is a testament to the talent and determination of Nigerian athletes, and a shining example of what can be achieved with hard work, perseverance, and support from the federation and the community”

Orbih concluded by expressing his confidence in Eniola’s future success and his belief that she will continue to make Nigeria proud by winning a medal at the Paralympic Games in Paris next July.

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