BY OLATOSIMI FADAHUNSI.
On a day most Nigerian table tennis were being beaten by their foreign counterparts, 13-year-old Ayanwale Jamiu, and Solanke Azeez did the unthinkable, as they both came from three sets down to win their respective games.
It was Jamiu who first had many of the fans put their hands in the mouth as the southpaw player did not only come from three sets against his Italian opponent Amato Antonino, but came from seven points down to win the last set by 11-7.
The defeated Antonino attributed his loss to the delirious mood in the hall at the moment Jamiu picked his first set
“I was winning until I felt the spirit of the crowd was against me and I became really afraid. He started fighting back and playing better and I lost.”
Jamiu after the (5-11, 9-11, 5-11, 14-12, 11-8, 11-7, 13-11) triumph over Antonino said all he did in the match was only to listen to instructions from his coach, Nasiru Bello.
“I feel so happy, I was so focused and not any point did I discourage myself. My coach won me the game. He said I should play to his forehand, which I did. At the end, I was able to come out victorious”.
Though he received bashing from most corners for calling time out when Jamiu had levelled up in the C Nasiru Bello claimed the 13-year-old southpaw would have lost the game if he didn’t call the time-out.
“I was overwhelmed; he started so low, but picked up late. I called him out at a crucial time in the last set, and against the belief of many, that was the deciding moment”, Bello said.
After Jamiu’s unimaginable victory, came Solanke Azeez to stamp his mark as one of the best table tennis lads in the continent.
Solanke, who defeated Egyptian Wael Ziad 8-10, 10-12, 4-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7, said he had a boring day, and that was why he was slow at the beginning.
“I have defeated him in over five games in the past. I only had a boring day, but I thank God I was able to win the game”.