The unexpected happened in Rabat, Morocco on Thursday, August 29, as a new face emerged as the Champion of Africa in the men’s Singles event at the 2019 African Games. Nigeria’s Olajide Omotayo conquered three of the best players in Africa to be crowned Champion.

From the quarterfinal stage, Omotayo worked his way to the final, beating two former champions – Egypt’s Ahmed Saleh and Nigeria’s Segun Toriola in the quarterfinal and semifinal stages.

The final produced the best of Africa with Aruna Quadri going up against Omotayo and the fans were treated to an exciting match.

Omotayo threw caution to the wind and raced to the lead with 3-0 (13-11, 11-9, 16-14) but the more experienced Quadri cut the lead to 3-2 with 8-11, 13-15 wins in the fourth and fifth games.

The sixth match was a display of energy and skills and it was the younger Omotayo that scaled through with 12-10 win to claim the second GOLD medal for Nigeria in the Table Tennis event of the multi-sports fiesta.

In the women’s singles, Egypt’s Dina Meshref retained her title to become the first female Egyptian to win the title back-to-back.

To beat Cameroun’s Sarah Hanffou who had earlier edged out Nigeria’s Edem Offiong in the semifinal, Meshref took charge from the start and controlled the match to end at 11-7, 11-4, 11-2, 11-7 to the admiration of the Egyptian fans.

An elated Omotayo said: “I am very happy winning the African Games. I am so proud of myself because this is a big one for my career and it was a good journey for me from the start of this competition, having won against some of the best players in the continent.”

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Yemi Olus is a Senior Sports Writer and Editor at Making of Champions. She has a bias for Athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the African Athletics Championships, African Games and IAAF World Championships. She has also freelanced for the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and currently hosts a weekly Track and Field column in the Vanguard Newspaper.

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