Team Nigeria has emerged victorious at the 2019 ITTF World Junior Circuit tagged Ghana Open with the boys’ contingent winning majority of the medals in the singles event.
Azeez Solanke and Taiwo Matti claimed gold in the junior and cadet singles with both players adding the doubles titles in the junior and cadet to emerge as the best team in the competition.
Despite not winning the gold medals in the girls’ event, Sukurat Aiyelabegan settled for silver and bronze medals in the mini-cadet, cadet and junior events as the most successful female player in the Nigeria team.
To emerge as champion in the junior boys’ singles, Solanke had to dig deep to beat southpaw Matti 4-0 while Matti put the disappointment behind him by beating compatriot – Jamiu Ayanwale 3-1 to win gold medal in the cadet boys’ singles while he partnered with Ayanwale to claim the gold medal in the cadet boys doubles.
Solanke partnership with Ayanwale also added another gold medal in the junior boys doubles after beating the pair of Matti and Augustine Emmanuel 3-1 in the final.
Despite not making it to most of the podiums, Ghanaian players were excited about the hosting of the tournament and also magnanimous that the knowledge acquired playing against some of the best juniors would fire them up to continue to work harder.
Nathaniel Kwesi Somuah, Media Officer of Ghana Table Tennis Association (GTTA) and Samuel Amoesi of Daily Graphic conducted separate interviews with some of the players.
11-year-old Richard Ofori, who plays in mini- cadet division (Under-13), shared an experience in playing in his first ever international competition.
“I have never played in such a competition; I felt nervous earlier which made me lost most of my matches. However, I have gained some experience and am happy about it.”
Emnanuella Yaa kyere, also played in the girls’ mini-cadet division, said:
“I am excited about playing in the competition. I have gathered a lot of experience which would help me in the future; I hope to learn from that to make me a better player.”
For Samuel Hagan, who played in the junior division (U-18), it is an exposure for him as he said:
“I have never represented Ghana in a competition. I have learnt to be focus; I was under pressure to win which made me commit a lot of errors causing me to lose more matches at the initial stage.”
“The feeling is great, to represent the country on home soil, I never thought it will come soon. I have lost some matches but I hope to build on the experience and do better next time.”