With the quality of players coupled with the presence of Africa’s highest ranked star – Aruna Quadri, men’s singles defending champion, Finland’s Benedek Olah has admitted that retaining the title would be difficult at this year’s ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open “Lagos 2017”.
The Finnish who won his first international title at the 2016 edition of the Nigeria Open has described his experience in Lagos has a unique one considering the enthusiasm of the spectators at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
“The atmosphere at the hall was legendary because I have never seen such a lively and fun packed table tennis tournament like what I saw in Lagos last year. Particularly the music interlude in between matches was inspiring to us as players. As I am eagerly looking forward to the tournament, I am also worried because of the nasty elbow injury which has not allowed me to train 100 percent,” he said.
However, Olah believes the quality of players already confirmed this year would make the tournament harder for him particularly the presence of the homeboy – Aruna Quadri.
“I must say that it is not going to be easy to retain the title this year with the presence of mighty Aruna Quadri whom I think he is very talented player. So it is not going to be easy at all but I am hoping that the Lagos fans will support me again this year just like they did in 2016. Also, I am hoping that the right music will be played during the tournament that will put me in the right frame of mind for every game.”
Olah, whose victory dance in 2016 went viral on social media, believes the 2016 triumph has improved his global status in the sport.
“When I came to Nigeria in 2016, I was not expecting that I will win but the right atmosphere was put in place by the organiser coupled with the huge support from the crowd made it possible for me to win. It was fun for me and I was so excited because I felt the crowd was enjoying my game so much 100 percent,” he added.