Commonwealth Games champion India, Kenya, Uganda, Benin Republic, Togo, South Africa and hosts – Nigeria are among the teams that will compete at this year’s ValueJet ITTF Lagos Para Open which serves off on Thursday October 12.
It will run till Saturday 14 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Speaking at the press conference held on Tuesday in Lagos, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Sunday Odebode said the tournament has received the full sanction by the world table tennis ruling body while the tournament has helped to unearth more top stars for Nigeria.
Specifically, Odebode said that most of the athletes that qualified for Paris 2024 Paralympic Games at the recent African Championships held in Giza, Egypt are products of the tournament while more players would emerge as majority of them are now been classified by ITTF.
“We are so happy that the tournament is now Factor 20 on ITTF calendar, which means players aiming to qualify for the Paralympic Games can come and compete and pick the necessary points to shore up their ranking.
“Now that it is fully sanctioned by ITTF, we are hopeful that more countries will identify with the tournament in near future.
“For this year, we have six countries including Nigeria competing and we are going to have the singles, mixed doubles and doubles events to prepare the players ahead of the Paralympic Games,” Odebode who is also the President of Paralympic Committee of Nigeria (PCN) said.
In his remarks, ITTF Para Events and Classification Manager Pablo Perez lauded the organisers of the annual tournament as an avenue to develop the players and the sport.
“I am so excited that this tournament has continued to improve the Nigerian players and this was reflected in their performance at the just concluded African Championships where nine of them qualified for the Paralympic Games in Paris next year.
“I can see that more players are coming through and this is the result of regular tournaments for players and this has confirmed Nigeria as the best in Africa and one of the top teams in the world.
“I am so excited returning to Nigeria again and I hope that more teams and countries will be coming to be part of the tournament following the exploits of Nigerian players in major competitions across the world,” Perez said.
For the Head of Business Development, Valuejet, Temitope Ajijola, the company would continue to support para sport especially with the impressive display of the athletes in Egypt where nine of them picked their tickets to Paris 2024.
“Apart from our businesses, sports remain our second priority and with what we are seeing in para table tennis, we are encouraged to do more and we are committed and we will continue to support the sport across the country,” he said