Nigerian athletes qualified to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games continues to grow with Isau Ogunkunle and Faith Obiora now confirmed in the list of qualified players. They made it based on their world ranking by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).
From the 2019 African Championships held in Egypt which served as the continental qualifiers, five Nigerians picked their tickets after emerging champions in their various classes to secure the automatic tickets. They are Tajudeen Agunbiade (M9), Olufemi Alabi (M10), Ahmed Koleosho (M3), Victor Farinloye (M8) and Faith Obazuaye (10).
A statement signed by ITTF Para Table Tennis Events and Classification Manager, Pablo Perez, has Nigeria listed among the 40 countries expected to compete in the table tennis event.
Ogunkunle and Obiora finished second in Egypt to miss out from the automatic qualification but their world ranking secured the slots for them after consideration by ITTF.
Ogunkunle who is the national champion will be making his debut at the Games in the men’s Class Four while Obiora who is making her second appearance at the Paralympic Games will be competing in the women’s Class Five.
The second Vice President, Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Anderson Bankole, said the qualification was a result of great efforts made by the federation.
“I am so happy that Nigeria will present seven athletes at the games being the highest contingent to be presented by Nigeria in the table tennis event of the Paralympic Games. I am sure and confident that we can win medals at the games because we have the quality players that can compete with the rest of the world. I am also hoping that after the COVID-19, we can expose these players to top class tournaments across the world.”
For Coach Sunday Odebode, the qualification of the players came off their dedication and commitment to the sport.
“I am confident that with more support for para table tennis, Nigeria has the capacity to sweep medals in the event because we have the quality players that can rival any team in the world. I hope and believe we can return home with medals from Tokyo.”.