Three members of the eight-man Team Nigeria listed for the 2016 ITTF World Junior Championship, Azeez Solanke, Alimot Ayinla and Rilwan Akanbi yesterday advanced in the singles event of the 48th Asoju Oba Molade Okoya-Thomas Cup holding at Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Solanke and Akanbi continued their unbeaten run in the men’s singles breezing into the last 16 of the men’s singles while southpaw Alimot Ayinla also scaled through to the quarterfinal round of the women’s singles.
A determined Solanke believes the tournament would aid his preparation for the World Junior Championship as he is expected to compete against some of the experienced players in Lagos State.
“I am using this competition to tune up for the South Africa championship and I know it is not going to be easy but I will give my best to finish among the top players in the singles. I can also admit that the standard this year is high because most of the players taking part have featured in the just concluded NTTF National Championships,” Solanke said.
Meanwhile NUmber one men’s singles seed, Ahmed Adeyinka continued his good form when he qualified for the last 16 of the championship.
For the Deputy referee of the competition, Olufemi George, the turnout for this year’s championship has been impressive as more schools are now competing in the cadet and junior events.
“I must say that the turnout of players for this year has been encouraging as more players are participating in the cadet and junior events. This is a good development for the sport because it is always good to unearth these players when they are young so that they can be groomed to world class players like Aruna Quadri. More schools are now taking part in the competition as schools like Indian Language School (ILS) has over 62 players taking part in the competition. This for us is good for the sport and we hope we can identify these players at a tender age,” George said.