Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri had to surmount several challenges including a back injury, to emerge champion in the men’s Singles at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open, which entered its climax on Sunday, August 11th, at the Molade Okoya Thomas Indoor Sports Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.
Quadri, who was the top seed at the tournament and currently ranked No. 21 in the world, fought bravely to ward off the challenge posed by Austria’s Robert Gardos, despite requiring medical attention several times in the course of the game. With the support of the fans, he eventually snatched the victory with a 4-2 (15-13, 11-3, 8-11, 11-6, 10-12, 11-1) score line as the crowd went wild in jubilation.
Speaking after the game, the Rio 2016 quarterfinalist said, “I feel really happy that I was able to defend my title and win it for Nigeria. I picked an injury during the Round of 16 and had to keep playing like that. At a point yesterday, I couldn’t even move my neck. I really want to appreciate the medical team because they helped me a lot. I kept playing because I’m fighter; I don’t give up. It’s not over until its over!”
Quadri won a prize money of $7,000 while runner-up Gardos got $3,500 for his efforts.
Meanwhile, it was a Russian affair in the women’s Singles and Doubles final as Polina Mikhailova and compatriot Yana Noskova partnered to win the women’s Doubles event, before facing off in the final. The former made a classic comeback from three sets down to out-serve the latter 4-3 (6-11,6-11,6-11, 11-8,11-3,15-14,15-13).
Although they did put up a good fight in the last two sets of men’s Doubles final, Nigeria’s duo of Segun Toriola and Olajide Omotayo finished runners-up after losing 3-0 (11-7, 11-9, 12-10) to the pair of Quentin Robinot (France) and Cedric Nuytinck (Belgium).
Speaking about his inspiring partnership with seven-time Olympian Toriola, youngster Omotayo said:
“I feel so happy because this is my first time of winning a medal at the Nigeria Open. This will be my second time pairing with him (Toriola); the first time was at last year’s Commonwealth Games. We didn’t lose any match. I have more confidence pairing with him because he has a lot of experience, so it makes me calm to have him beside me. I don’t care which ever player we have to face. We are up to the task.”