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Best of the best players invade Nigeria for Lagos International Badminton Classics

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Once again, the Teslim Balogun Stadium’s  Molade Okoya Thomas Indoor Hall goes agog again as the best badminton players all over the world congregate there next week.

They are a total of 108 foreign players from over 35 countries and will be joined by 43 Nigerian players who will jostle for podium finish as well as gathering points to aid their entries for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

It looks a renewed vigour after a two-year hiatus caused mainly by the Covid-19 pandemic and logistical issues. And so, the rackets will once again go up to smash the shuttles when the sixth edition of the Lagos International Badminton Classics – the biggest and best in Africa – gets underway from 30 August to 2 September.

According to Francis Orbih, president of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN) and council member of the continental body, BCA, 37 countries as at last Friday, have confirmed entry.

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“More are expected this week,” the Badminton Confederation of Africa remarked last Friday. Among the 37 countries so far entered are some from the top league of badminton circuit. In alphabetical order, they include:

Algeria, Azerbaijan, Australia, Austria, Benin Republic, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada and Czech Republic.

The other countries include England, Equatorial Guinea, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Mauritius, and Norway.

Also jostling for the biggest prize obtainable in any tournament in Africa are players from  Nigeria, Peru, Sri Lanka, Spain, South Africa, Slovakia, Slovenia, Togo, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, USA and Zambia.

Ambassadors of different countries whose players will be participating are expected to be in attendance together with a the badminton loving governors of Kebbi, Ekiti and Ebonyi states who will all add glamour to the Classics.

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The Lagos Classics has been variously described as the highest category of Badminton World Federation-sanctioned championship to be hosted by any African Country.

The rating of the Classics also affords the participants, including Nigerian players, the opportunity to garner points towards qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympics as well as improve their BWF World ranking.

Mr Orbih expressed happiness that the competition is staging a big comeback after being off the calendar for 3 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its after effects.

“We are glad the biggest and flagship event in the African Badminton circuit is back,” the President said.

Orbih thanked the Lagos State Government, especially Governor Babajide Sanwo Olu for sustaining Lagos State’s support and sponsorship of the event calling on other States to emulate the gesture.

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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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