Usman Okanlawon and Sadiat Akeem made the country proud at the ITTF African Hopes Challenge held in Kinshasa, Congo DRC, as the teenagers secured their places at the ITTF World Hopes Challenge holding in Muscat, Oman.
The Nigeria teenagers competed against players from Egypt, Tunisia, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo Brazzaville and host – Congo DRC, with the top two players in the U12 & U-15 events berthing at the world championship in Oman.
Despite losing 2-3 to Egypt’s Yassine Yasser in the boys’ U-12 event, Okanlawon made the cut to the global tournament while Akeem who also competed in the girls’ U-12 defeated Egypt’s Hagar Ashraf Shahata to emerge champions and also secured her place in the Oman tournament.
Also in Morocco at the weekend, Taiwo Mati showed his class as the Ondo State-born athlete emerged winner in the boys cadet singles event at the just concluded ITTF World Junior Circuit held in Agadir.
It was double titles for Mati, as the Nigerian paired Hungary’s Balazs Lei to claim cadet boys’ doubles gold and finishing in top four in the junior boys’ singles.
The 2019 Ghana Junior Circuit champion lived up to expectations in Morocco, having narrowly missed out from playing in the final of the junior boys singles with a 1-4 loss to eventual champion – France’s Vincent Picard 1-4 (7-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7). To emerge winner in the cadet doubles, Mati and his partner beat the combination of Saudia Arabia’s Khalid Alshareif and Remi Chambet-Weil of the Netherland (11-2, 11-8, 11-9).
Also in the cadet boys’ singles final, Mati excelled by accounting for Slovakia’s Jakub Goldir, in four games (13-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8).
Mati being the shining light of Africa in the competition, there was also success for the continent as Algeria’s Melissa Belache won the cadet girls’ singles event at the final hurdle she overcame Morocco’s Ines Outolla (9-11, 7-11, 11-7, 13-11, 11-6).