By Lawrence Oshodi –
Nigeria’s sole entry at the All Africa Individual Badminton Championships in Kampala, Anuoluwapo Opeyori, secured unexpected Gold without a coach or any accompanying official,on Sunday.
The Badminton Federation of Nigeria made this known on Monday in a statement issued in Lagos.
It was Opeyori’s second gold medal at the event after taking the 2019 title following a win against his compatriot, Godwin Olofua in that final.
To get to the final, Opeyori beat 2017 champion Adel Hamek of Algeria in a convincing fashion with a 21-18, 21-18 semi-final triumph.
On his path to the semi-final he beat home boy, Israel Wanagalya of Uganda 18-21, 21-10 and 21-11 to get a 2-1 win having come back from a set down.
Sunday’s victory was a gamble that paid off. Opeyori avenged his loss in the 2020 final with a thrilling 21-14, 23-21 win over Brian Kasirye of Uganda.
The Badminton Federation stated that it was also Nigeria’s first major win since the crisis in the administration of badminton ensued last year.
Opeyori won glory for Nigeria in spite of daunting challenges as he was the country’s sole entry at the championship because of paucity of funds.
His doubles partner, Godwin Olofua failed to show up having travelled unexpectedly to Qatar.
Nigeria was to present the three-man team that went for the last Olympics comprising of Opeyori and Godwin Olofua in both the singles and doubles men’s event.
Dorcas Adesokan also a member of the Olympic squad triumvirate had to be excused on account of preparation for her wedding.
That left only Opeyori as the sole competitor and was at the brink of not attending owing to the funding challenge.
There is no executive board of the Badminton Federation in the country at the moment.
The leadership of a caretaker committee had to get Opeyori a flight ticket to Uganda to attend the championship.
Not featuring in competitions had already taken its toll on the ranking of Nigerian players.