Top seed, Aruna Quadri yesterday became the first Nigerian to win the men’s title of the annual International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open held at the Molade Okoya Thomas Indoor Hall, of the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
China’s Guo Yan won the Women’s Singles title.
In the Men’s class, Quadri dug deep to beat Frenchman, Antoine Hachard (16th seed), in six games of 11-13, 11-3, 8-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7), while Yan, who earlier won the Under 21 title, fought a battle of her life before overcoming compatriot, Sun Chen, in a 6-11, 11-6, 11-5, 7-11, 9-11, 11-4, 12-10 thriller.
The Chinese again dominated the Women’s Doubles as the pair of Qi Fenjie and Sun Chen beat compatriots, Fan Siqi and Guo Yan, in three straight sets of 11-3, 11-4, 11-6, while the French pair of Alexandre Robinot and Joe Seyfried defeated the combination of Hungary’s Tamas Lakatos and Finland’s Benedek Olah, to win the title in 11-3, 11-7, 5-11, 11-6 results.
For their efforts, Quadri and Yan won $5,000 cash prizes each, while the runners up received $2,500. The sum of $3000 each was awarded to the winners of the Men’s and Women’s Doubles, as runners up got the sum of $1,500 respectively.
The Olympian is to receive N1 million promised yesterday by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for Qudri’s effort as a Nigerian player at the championship.
Quadri got the $200 fair play award, while Jamiu Ayanwale was given the award of the best performing Nigerian player with a cash prize of $200 sponsored by Premier Bet (Baba Ijebu).
Speaking on his success yesterday, Quadri attributed his victory to the fans that came out to support him.
“With all the support that I got today from the fans, shouting all because of me.
It means it is God that has made this victory possible not because that I am better. It is because God just favoured me and today I am very happy that I did not disappoint them.
“This year, I have played already in three finals, and I lost two, that is the African final, and the Commonwealth Games, but tonight which is the third final, I am happy that I finally won a final match. Antoine Hachard is a very good player.”
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At the occasion, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode said Quadri’s victory, being the first Nigerian to attain the feat, would further spur the state and strengthen his desire towards sports development in Lagos.
“With this, we will increase our investment in sports and work effortlessly to attract investors into the game in Lagos”.
“Based on what we did this year, which was giving financial bonus to Nigerians that qualified, we will embark on a strategy that will ensure that more Nigerians, especially local players, participate in the tournament next year.
“These are part of the Lagos masterplan for sports, which also include the construction and expansion of stadia across the state. I can also assure you that next year, we will be hosting the tournament in a hall that can accommodate 16 sets simultaneously with a 5000 capacity,” he stated.