ITTF Nigeria Open: Nigeria Is Fast Becoming Africa’s Table Tennis Hub, Says Ghana’s Derek Abrefa

The staging of the annual ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open ‘Lagos 2017’ coupled with the rating of its players among the best in the world, Nigeria is fast becoming the hub of table tennis in Africa, says Ghana’s Derek Abrefa.

Abrefa, who was voted the 2016 Ghana’s Table Tennis Star of the Year, believes hosting of the Nigeria Open has given more African players the chance to make it to the world ranking as well as improve their rating in the globe.

The 25-year-old University of Cape Coast undergraduate said: “I must say Nigeria is becoming the home of table tennis in Africa. But I must also say Ghana is also on the verge of becoming one of the top African countries that will first be mentioned when we talk of table tennis. The Nigeria Open gives Africans the opportunity to meet top table tennis players as well as give and expose African table tennis players. Since most African countries are developing countries, most sports athletes don’t get the opportunity to be exposed outside the continent to meet higher and experienced players due to inadequate support from the government. And since Nigeria Open is a recognised ITTF tournament, it enables others who are battling with sponsorship issues to be able to participate and secure a good ranking in the world.”

The Ghanaian star is also not giving up on his team chances in Lagos, saying, “Ghanaians have prepared for this competition and I must say our efforts will pay us off well. Our target is to come and return back to Ghana with a medal. We stand a chance of winning a medal.

Derek Abrefa

For his expectations in Lagos, he said: “My expectation for this tournament is to be able to move a step ahead of where I was the last time i participated. I have prepared so well for this competition and all I hope and pray is that the draw favours me, also because in every competition one needs to get a good place in the draw. I am expecting myself to put up a better performance.”

On African players’ chance, the Ghanaian number one said: “I am expecting Africans to fight for the ultimate prize since Europeans always defend every trophy that falls within their continent. We can make it and we must make sure we keep the trophy in Africa.”

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Nigeria’s Inyang Clinches Another Tennis Title In US

Nigeria national junior player, Gabriel Inyang continued his breathless display on his summer training tour of the United States on Saturday by beating Alex Weinberg to retain the Feinberg 12 and Under tournament held at the Brant Lake Camp, Adirondacks, New York.

The Victoria Garden City Club of Lagos player, who clocked 12 on July 21, was on top of his game against his American agemate wrapping up the one-sided clay court contest 6-0, 6-3 in less than an hour. His spectacular display was highlighted by the fact that he did not drop a single set in the tourney which featured 32 players.

Inyang and Weinberg had three weeks ago contested in final of the Beco Tournament on hard court which Inyang came out victorious with a nail-biting 8-6 win. Inyang has now won back-to-back titles at the Beco Junior Tournament and the Feiberg Junior Tournament both organised by the United States Tennis Association.

He represented Nigeria at the 2017 ITF/CAT West and Central Africa 12 and Under Championship in April in Lagos and was Nigeria’s best performer at the tournament as observed by ITF Development Officer, Moroccan Amine Ben Machlouf, the chief referee at the tournament. His latest feat has enhanced his chances of getting consideration for scholarship at the ITF High Performance Centre in Morocco.

Gabriel Inyang wins 2017 Feinberg 12 and Under Tournament

“I have had to oversee a talented young player who is also matured beyond his years. I have been extremely impressed with his attitude during training and during matches. He is always calm under pressure and continues to fight even when he is down.

“Gabriel is an extremely promising young player who possesses all the right traits to make it far in tennis. If he is motivated,” Jon Bradley, a UK-based tennis pro at the camp said of him.

Go Round FC Fall At Comets

Two free kick goals, one in each half put Go Round FC to the sword at the Umuahia Township Stadium under terrible weather and pitch conditions.

Go Round needed to win in order to keep the promotion chasers within reach but fell 2-1 to their more determined foes.

It was Amaobi Ifeanyi’s free kick in the 7th minute that curved behind the wall and the reach of a stranded goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali even though Nelson Esor almost put the visitors ahead in the first minute when his shot from distance went close.

Three minutes later, Esor thought he had won a penalty for his side when he was brought down in the box but the referee rather signaled for a corner.

At the half hour mark, Esor stylishly beat his marker but his half volley went wide.

With the pitch very unplayable, Ademola Raphael thought he had doubled the lead for Abia Comets but Nwabali was very alert to punch out his thirty yard shot.

Four minutes into the second half and Ademola Raphael’s free kick beat Nwabali for the second goal of the game.

Eta Okon pulled one back in the 65th minute when a surprise shot from about twenty five yards went in.

While Go Round FC tried their best to draw level, the home side held on to win and move away from relegation zone.

Coach of Abia Comets, Victor Nwakanma described it as a lucky win for his side.

“You saw the weather. It was not friendly to anybody. It was a game of luck.

“The two teams played under this weather and tried their best and I think the strength came in, for me, we had that strength. It would have been a very beautiful game if we had dry weather,” Nwakanma said.

“It was a very disappointing result for a team chasing promotion to have lost a game we had control of.
“Anyway it is football and with ten matches to go and we are convident we will turn the tables. The rain disturbed my boys,” Elechi said.

KWESE PBL: HOOPERS DUO LEADS THE KINGSMEN PAST WARRIORS

Rivers Hoopers rebounded from Thursday’s loss to Kwara Falcons defeating Oluyole Warriors 71-60 points on Saturday at the Indoor Sports Hall, Adamasingba Stadium, Ibadan.

Hoopers were led by two backcourt players Ikechukwu Benjamin and Emmanuel Balogun, who scored 14 points and 12 points respectively in a game dominated by the Atlantic Conference Leaders.

The KingsMen made up for Thursday’s loss in Ilorin as they held their own from start to finish against the Warriors.

With two seconds left on the clock, Ikechukwu made a three point buzzer shot which increased their advantage to 7-18 going into the second quarter.

The game was tied just once and Hoopers only missed 4 of 14 of their free throws.

Third quarter games are usually challenging for the Ogoh Odaudu-led team but against the Warriors, they showed better intensity. Hoopers led as much as 17 points heading to the fourth (40-57).

Despite losing the third quarter (22-25), the Warriors recuperated forcing their visitors to commit several errors early in the fourth.

Hoopers had trouble maintaining a significant cushion and possession half way into the fourth.

The former champions had a low scoring game in the fourth as they made just 14 points, the least of all four quarters played. The visitors were unable to extend their advantage through the last minute of the game. The host responded with a 7-0 run of their own to pull within (57-69) with 1:05 remaining.

The margin would have been greater if not for the abundance of turnovers suffered by the KingsMen late in the game.

Efforts to close in the gap on Hoopers was cut short as the KingsMen had done the larger part of the work in the first half with little to be done in the closing quarter.

Rivers Hoopers coach was excited his team could bounce back each time they lose a game.

“We always bounce back from every loss. The last time we were in Kwara they nearly killed us. They blew us out by 36 points and we came back here (Ibadan) and picked the game the next day.

“I think it’s a good test for our guys. They normally don’t go on a losing streak. They lose 1 and pick themselves up and bounce back again,” said Odaudu.

Hoopers last two regular season games will be in Lagos next week against NAF Rocket on Thursday and Hoops and Read on Saturday.

TRIPLE GOLD FOR RUSSIA AT 17th FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

The sixth finals’ session of the swimming competition at the 17th FINA World Championships in Budapest (HUN) was an historic day for Russia, with three gold medals out of the five at offer. In the 200m breaststroke, both men and women, Russian swimmers ruled the pool, with Anton Chupkov triumphing with a new Championships Record (2:06.96) among men, and Yulia Efimova being the best in the women’s field. To complete this successful harvest, Evgeny Rylov is the new world champion in the men’s 200m backstroke, namely beating the Olympic champion, US Ryan Murphy.

We also had a thrilling women’s 100m free final at the packed Duna Arena, with Simone Manuel (USA) confirming her Olympic title, and defeating favourite Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), who had established a new World Record of the distance, when swimming the 4x100m free for Sweden. In the fifth final of the day, Great Britain managed to revalidate their world crown in the 4x200m free, with an imperial James Guy anchoring the British quartet in a time of 1:43.80.

Women’s 100m free

In a thrilling first final of the day, the women’s 100m free, Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) seemed to be in control of the race in lane 4, but next to her Simone Manuel (USA), the 2016 Olympic champion arrived better and got the gold in 52.27, against 52.31 for the Swedish star. Sjostrom had established the new World Record (51.71) of the distance as lead-off of the 4x100m free relay, but could not approach that performance in the individual final, despite her first 50m (0.08 under WR pace). Already silver medallist in 2013 and 2015, Sjostrom had one gold here in Budapest, in the 100m fly. For Manuel, who had shared the Olympic gold with Penny Oleksiak from Canada (only sixth in the Duna Arena, in a time of 52.94), this is her first individual success at the Worlds, after the gold in the 4x100m free relay. The bronze in Budapest went to Pernille Blume, from Denmark, the 2016 Rio champion in the 50m free. Bronte Campbell, the defending 2015 world champion was only seventh in 53.18, while Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED), third in 2011 and 2013, and Olympic champion in 2012, was fifth in 52.78.

Men’s 200m back

After the elimination of Mitch Larkin (AUS) in the semis – the Australian was the 2015 world champion – Xu Jiayu (CHN) was the fastest going to the finals. Fourth in Kazan, two years ago, and winner of the 100m back in Budapest, the Chinese was not so strong in the decisive race, concluding in fifth (1:55.26). The gold went to Russia’s Evgeny Rylov, who took an early control of the race and never left the lead, clocking 1:53.61. Third at the 2015 Worlds in Russia and also bronze medallist at the Rio Olympics, this is Rylov’s main success at this level. His achievement is outstanding if we consider that he managed to “comfortably” beat the 100m and 200m back Games champion in Brazil, US Ryan Murphy. The North American got the silver in the Duna Arena, in a time of 1:54.21, and was followed by his teammate Jacob Pebley (bronze in 1:55.06). Ryosuke Irie, from Japan, silver medallist in 2009 and 2011, and also runner-up at the 2012 Olympics in London, had to content with the seventh place (1:56.35).

Women’s 200m breast

After a strange outcome in Kazan 2015 – for the first time in history, three swimmers shared the bronze medal -, the Budapest 2017 race produced only three swimmers on the podium, each with one medal of a different colour. The gold went to Yulia Efimova (RUS), after using her usual tactics – defensive race in the first 100m, and then acceleration in the second half of the final. The Russian great touched home in 2:19.64 and repeated her 2013 success, when she also won in Barcelona (ESP). At the Rio 2016 Olympics, she was the runner-up in both the 100m and 200m races, while in Budapest she had been third in the 100m breast. The silver went to Bethany Galat, from the United States, in 2:21.77 – her first international feat at this level. Shi Jinglin (CHN) earned bronze in 2:21.93 – the 24-year-old Chinese was precisely one of the three bronze medallists in 2015. Jessica Vall (ESP), also third two years ago in Russia, was not so strong this time, finishing eighth and last in 2:23.29. Lilly King (USA), 2017 world champion and 2016 Olympic gold medallist in the 100m breast, could not reach the podium, finishing fourth in 2:22.11.

Photo credit: FINA

Men’s 200m breast

The fourth final of the day was already meaningful before the decisive race: in the heats, Daniel Gyurta, from Hungary, and the winner in 2009, 2011 and 2013, was 17th and missed the next stage of the competition; precisely in the semis, Marco Koch, gold medallist in 2015 and runner-up in 2013, was also not qualified for the final, concluding in 11th. Arrived then to the decisive race, it was firstly – until the 150m-mark – a Japanese affair with Yasuhiro Koneki and Ippei Watanabe in the leading positions. In the last length of the pool, Anton Chupkov, from Russia, accelerated and touched for gold in 2:06.96, a new Championships Record. He improved his own performance from the semis, when he had clocked 2:07.14. The Russian – born in 1997 – had been bronze medallist at the Rio Olympics, and was seventh in this event in Kazan 2015. The minor medals went to the two Japanese representatives: Koseki (silver, in 2:07.29 – his first medal at the Worlds), and Watanabe (bronze in 2:07.47). The latter is the World Record holder in this event, after a 2:06.67 effort last January in Tokyo. He was sixth of the Olympic final last summer in Rio de Janeiro.

Men’s 4x200m free relay

In the last final of the day, the team of Great Britain revalidated its 2015 title in the men’s 4x200m free relay, thanks to a decisive last leg from James Guy (also involved in the gold two years ago in Kazan). The British quartet – formed by Stephen Milne, Nicholas Grainger, Duncan Scott and Guy – touched for gold in 7:01.70. The Russian squad got the silver in 7:02.68, repeating the ranking already achieved in 2009 and 2013. The United States – second in Kazan – got this time the bronze in 7:03.18. Before the British “era”, the North American domination in this event had been overwhelming before 2005 and 2013, with five consecutive world titles. Australia, bronze in 2015, couldn’t get into the podium this time, finishing in fourth (7:05.98).

Twelve Racers Ready For The Youth Match Racing World Championship

Twelve of the best youth match racers will race out of the Balboa Yacht Club from 31 July to 5 August at the 2017 Youth Match Racing World Championship.

The Championship brings together the best youth match racers from around the world, acknowledging their skills and offering a pathway to senior match racing competition.

In its fourth year, the Youth Match Racing Worlds has provided a pathway for the best young match racers to test themselves against the best in their age group. Joakim Aschenbrenner (DEN) claimed the inaugural title in 2014, followed by Sam Gilmour (AUS) in 2015 and Will Dargaville (AUS) in 2016.

The 2017 Worlds features a record number of participating countries including two skippers from each of the USA, New Zealand, and Australia, and one each from the Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and Denmark.

Furthermore, the 2017 edition will welcome two all-female crews with Clare Costanzo leading an Australian team, and Johanna Berqvist heading up a Swedish entry.

Australia’s Harry Price will come into the event tagged as favourite.

The young Australian is World #6 in the World Sailing Open Match Racing Rankings following several exceptional performances at Grade 2 and 3 events over the last 24-months.

Price finished as runner-up at the 2016 Youth Match Racings Worlds in Noumeau, New Caledonia and with experience of racing out of the Balboa Yacht Club, he’ll be gunning for top spot in 2017. Price claimed the honours at the 2015 Governor’s Cup, an International Youth Match Racing Regatta that is the oldest youth match racing event in the world, hosted by Balboa Yacht Club since 1967.

The Governor’s Cup celebrated its 50th Anniversary in July 2016 and in honour of that milestone, the Club’s members and friends funded the design and construction of 12 new “Governor’s Cup 22’s” which will be used at the Youth Match Racing Worlds.

Apart from Price, there are no further returnees from the 2016 Youth Match Racing Worlds.

However, many of the competitors have experience of racing on the waters off Balboa Yacht Club following the 51st edition of the Governor’s Cup that was held earlier this month.

Harry Price at the 2016 Youth Match Racing Worlds

New Zealand’s George Anyon finished eighth, Great Britain’s Matt Whitfield tenth and Charlie Welsh of the USA was 12th. All three will use their experience at the Youth Match Racing Worlds.

Racing will commence on Tuesday 1 August at 12:00 local time. A double round robin, where competitors face each other twice, will commence proceedings.

At the end of the round robin phase, the top four teams will advance to semi-finals with the top two advancing to the final to crown a 2017 World Champion.

The remaining teams will sail a best of five series to establish the remaining places.

Racing will conclude on Saturday 5 August.

By Daniel Smith – World Sailing

Go Round FC President To Splash The Cash

President and founder of Nigeria National League side, Go Round FC, Felix Obuah has promised to splash the cash once again if his side qualifies to play in the top tier of the Nigerian league.

Go Round FC currently stand in 3rd place on the Nigeria National League, NNL log and Obuah has made a subtle reminder that the lives of the players and officials of the club could change for good if they grab one of the qualifying tickets.

“My players know how committed I am to their welfare and also what I can do when they deliver on expectations.

“I have told them that their lives will change if they deliver the promotion ticket to the people of Omoku and Rivers State and this includes the players, coaches and management of the team,” Obuah said.

“The welfare is good here. At least I know we are the only club in Nigeria that is not owing salaries or match bonuses and this is because I want them to always be in the right frame of mind all season long.”

The team will play in Umuahia on Saturday against Abia Comets and are hoping to get the three points to stake a stronger claim for one of the promotion slots.

Meanwhile, Felix Obuah describes his love for the club as a passion that will not go away.

“My passion for this club is one that will not go away because I believe in grass roots football development.

“It is this passion that has seen the team own its own stadium, camp and club house, something only FC Ifeanyi Ubah in the Nigerian top flight league can boast of.

“It is this same passion that sees me accompany the team for most of the away games we have played this season.

“The reward for all of this will surely be a place in the top flight and we are working together to see that we achieve this by the end of the season,” Obuah said.

A few years ago when the team returned from the amateur ranks to the professional League, the players got two hundred thousand naira each for the efforts while in 2016 after winning the Rivers State FA Cup, Obuah rewarded the players with five hundred thousand naira each.

Ever since their return to the professional ranks, this season has so far been the closest the club has been to qualifying for the NPFL.