Nigeria’s Eniola Bolaji who last year stunned the more fancied Ukrainian Oksana Kozyna 18-21,21-14,21-18 in the SL3 category to win the first-ever gold medal by an African Para badminton player has again made Nigeria badminton to scale a new height.
She has been accorded a continental recognition by the Badminton Confederation Africa (BCA) at its Annual General Meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The award came on the heels of Obiageli Solaja being named as the African Women in Badminton Award winner for 2019.
According to a media statement by the Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN), the president, Francis Orbih was oblivious of what was in the offing at the General Assembly when he was called up to stage to receive the award on behalf of the player who was in Nigeria.
He thanked the BCA and on behalf of the player and dedicated the award to her late coach, Banji Bello.
Later, the photograph of the award was sent digitally to the player who instantly uploaded it on her various social media platforms.
The President was quite visibly emotional on receiving the award on behalf of the player and was doubly pleased at the coincidence when the player herself without prior notice of the President’s dedication to her late Coach, went on to dedicate her award to the departed Coach.
The President said that the award was a good omen to the restart of badminton activities in the country, which generally slowed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic that put a stop to most badminton activities in Nigeria and the period the Federation elections were delayed.
Nigeria’s Eniola Bolaji sprang into international reckoning when in the SL3 category of para badminton, she became the first African to win the first-ever gold medal outside the continent at the Spanish Para badminton International Championship last year.
Eniola put up a spirited fight to come from one set down to become the eventual winner in her debut tournament.
Born on the 21st of September 2005 in Ibadan, and brought up in Kwara State Nigeria, Eniola was discovered five years ago and was coached by the late Coach Bello Oyebanji who lost his life in preparation for the tournament that shot Eniola into limelight.
Her first interest was tennis but the late coach saw her potential in para badminton.