Team Nigeria Thursday night made history it
defeated Mauritius to claim gold medal in the mixed team event of the All
Africa Senior Badminton Championships in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
It was the coveted medal and the West Africans claimed it in a dramatic way.
Anuoluwapo Opeyori and Dorcas Adesokan were the stars of the night. They were simply glittering. They shone like thousand stars! They displayed impressive form. It was tenacity of purpose in display as the duo worked towards Nigeria’s historic victory.
Opeyori started the onslaught when he secured a 21-11, 21-13 against hard-fighting Aatish Lubah in the men’s singles.
The Nigerian number one had somewhat easy first set but got it pretty tough in the second as the Mauritian raced to a four point lead maintaining that until the interval when the Nigerian used combination of incredible footwork and strong forehand to undo his opponent and won the set 21-13.
The second match was really destined to be a difficult one for Team Nigeria. Deborah Ukeh was to face the Africa’s number one in the women category, Kate Foo Kune. In less than 30 minutes the Mauritian had handed down a 21-12, 21-16 defeat to the Nigerian. The tie stood at 1-1 apiece.
Mauritius opened a lead when Lubah combined forces with top seed, Georges Paul, to seal a 21-16, 16-21, 21-11 over the duo of Enejo Abbah and Clement Krobakpor to make it 2-1.
Adesokan paired with Ukeh to restore parity when they dispatched Aurelie Allet and Loma Botha 21-8, 21-10 in the women’s doubles to set the stage for the final match.
The atmosphere at the Indoors Hall of the Ditte Spiff Civic Centre was electrifying, the tension was high as the duo of Opeyori and Adesokan stepped into the court to face Paul and Kune in the mixed doubles.
It was the best of Nigeria against the best of Mauritius and the tie lived up to its billing, extremely close match that ended 21-19, 21-19 in favour of the hosts to send spectators into frenzy.
“This is the best day of my career,” Opeyori said after the game. “I was jittery this morning but my coach and mates urged me on and I am happy I didn’t disappoint.”
“The good thing about this victory is that Nigeria will represent Africa for the first time at the Sudirman Cup in China, we are the champions of Africa,” an elated President of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria Francis Obih said.