The debut edition of the RenewedHope invitational challenge has ended in Lagos with winners emerging and several upsets created.
The Challenge, a first of its kind in Nigeria saw an end to the dominance of Fatima Bello of G20 in the women’s category with arch-rival and National Sports Festival Bronze medalist, Bose Odusanya emerging as the pioneer female champion of the event. Ondo’s Taiwo Matti however won in the male category.
Bello, winner of the last national tournaments – 20th National Sports Festival, Aso Cup and National Championships was dazed in the semifinal of the women’s singles by Kwara’s Bisola Asaju while her arch-rival Lagos’ Odusanya finally cuddled a trophy having lost the last two national tournaments to Bello in recent times.
The surprise star of the tournament which held at the Molade Okoya Thomas Indoor Sport Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium was Bayelsa’s Samuel Boboye. The 15-year-old waltzed his way to the final having taken down some of the top players on his way to the final against Mati.
The men’s singles final had all the elements of a world class display by the players with Mati playing with a lot of caution against Boboye who had earlier in the day beaten the national U-21 champion in the group stage.
Despite starting well in the final, Boboye could not re-enact his earlier performance against Mati and in less than an hour he bowed the superiority of Mati at 4-2 (13-11, 8-11, 7-11, 11-13, 11-7. 1-11).
In the women’s singles, Odusanya became the champion after beating Asaju 4-2 (11-5, 8-11, 11-4, 3-11, 11-5, 11-6).
An elated Odusanya described the victory as a reward for her hard work which has always been thwarted by Bello in the last two tournaments while hoping to remain on top of her game in subsequent tournaments.
The one-day N1.2m prize money tournament was sponsored by the Director General, Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC) Toyin Gafar Bolowotan under the umbrella of Renewed Hope, a non-governmental based in Lagos.
Bolowotan, who was impressed with the organization coupled with the display by the players, said the commission would continue to support such a tournament which has continued to attract the best players in the country. He however lauded the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) for their ingenuity in putting the tournament together.