Nigeria’s sports minister Sunday Dare and the Nigeria Olympic Committee have heaped praises on ex-Nigeria badminton international, Mrs Oby Solaja. The accolades follow the honour bestowed on her as the recipient of the 2019 African Women in Badminton Award.
Dare said, “I wish to register my profound congratulations to one of Nigeria’s pioneer International Badminton player Mrs Oby Solaja for her recognition as the winner of the prestigious BCA award. This honour is not only well deserved, but symbolic. Coming at a time when Nigeria has shown commitment to the development of badminton makes it special.
“This award is not just for you, but one that has made every Nigerian proud. This is reward of your commitment, hard work and dedication as a pioneer badminton player, coach and administrator. Indeed, it an honour well deserved. I urge you not to relent in using your pole position in the game to further develop the sport in our country.”
The minister did not leave out the Nigeria Badminton Federation president, Francis Orbih.
He added, “This is also a recognition of the sterling leadership of the President of the Badminton President Francis Orbih who has displayed astute leadership.”
The President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Habu Gumel and the Executive Board also congratulated Solaja and the Badminton Federation of Nigeria for the award.
The NOC also hailed Naomi Oyinloye who broke a 20-year jinx to become the first Nigerian Certificated Umpire of the Badminton Confederation of Africa (BCA).
Solaja becomes the second recipient of the award after South African Gretha Prinsloo who received it in 2018.
According to the award letter signed jointly by President and Chairperson of BCA Michel Bau and Meneoang Leshotha respectively, Solaja’s choice was hinged on her enormous contributions to the success of the 2019 All Africa Senior Badminton Championship held in Port Harcourt, her long term achievements in Nigeria and Africa when she won 3 gold medals in the Africa Senior Championship in 1996: Women Singles, Women Doubles and Mixed Doubles.
Solaja is a seven time African Women Champion, 10-time Nigerian champion and a pioneer player at the Olympics.
During a visit to Nigeria last November, IOC President Thomas Bach publicly commended Solaja for featuring at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when the game first featured as an Olympic event.
Due to the Covid-19 scourge, the date for the presentation of the award is yet to be decided.