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Francis Orbih’s Badminton Board Gets Winning Start

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BY CHINWE EDOGA.

An unranked Nigeria’s Anuoluwapo Juwon Opeyori has won this year’s Men’s singles event of the Ivory Coast International Badminton Tournament which ended in Abidjan on Sunday.
He was the best among 65 players from 11 countries across the world.
The allure of Nigeria’s performance was that there were three Nigerians among the four on the podium for the Men’s singles title. Not just that it was almost a clean sweep by Nigeria in the Mixed Doubles Event.
The pair of Enejoh Abah and Peace Orji defeated another Nigerian pair of Gideon Babalola and Uchechukwu Ukeh 21-18; 21-18 thus making Nigeria to win gold and silver medals.
Another Nigerian pair of Jafar Salih Umar and Zainab Momoh won the bronze medal along with Ghana’s Emmanuel Yaw Donkor and Stella Kote Amasah.
In all, the Nigerian contingent won two gold, two silver and four bronze medals.
In the Men’s Singles title, Nigeria’s Opeyori beat Jordanian Bahaedeen Ahmad Alshannik 21-18; 21-16 in the keenly contested final duel to give the Francis Orbih’s board of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN), a winning start.
When it was becoming a near impossibility for Nigeria to send a team, Francis Orbih, the BFN president-elect had to swing into action and successfully got sponsorship package from the Lagos State Government to send a 25-man Nigerian team to the tournament.
An elated Orbih told Sports Village Square that he could not wait to be sworn in before swinging into action as he had promised to raise the standard of badminton during his tenure.
He along with his board members and the boards of other sports federations will be sworn in next week Monday in Abuja.
“I am really grateful to Governor Ambode for his magnanimity in sponsoring the team despite a very short notice given to him.
“Little wonder, things are working in Lagos as an action man is at the helms.
“I am sure, he will be very glad that his efforts have not been in vain”, remarked Orbih.
He told the Sports Village Square, that he would not have allowed vacuum to occur by waiting to be sworn in before ensuring the attendance of a Nigerian team in an international tournament that will not only give them good exposure, but also help in the overall ranking of Nigerian players.
He concluded that it would have amounted to big disservice, if he had failed to facilitate the performance of the Nigerian team in Abidjan. The team will move to Benin Republic to begin another campaign for honours on Wednesday.
He was particularly elated at the success of Anuoluwapo Opeyori, a player he personally discovered as the chairman of Lagos State Badminton Association.
“Our participation in the West Africa Badminton Circuit was preceded by a three-week closed camp for the 27 Nigerian players made up of nine female and 18 male players.
“We can see what camping does to players, instead of merely calling them up for trips to tournaments’, said Orbih.
On his way to glory, Opeyori beat Ghana’s Abraham Ayittey 22-20; 21-19 before having to face a Nigerian, Habeeb Temitope Bello in the next round. He won 21-19; 21-16.
His most challenging game was against Nigeria’s Gideon Babalola, pointing out the great strength of the Nigerian team. It was perhaps, Opeyori’s toughest match. He lost the first game 15-21 and was leading the second 6-3 before Babalola scratched owing to injury.
He then moved on to dispatch Ghana’s Daniel Sam 27-25; 21-11 to move to the final.
Opeyori was not the only successful Nigerian at the tournament. The duo of Clement Krobakpo and Gideon Babalola are joint third place winners in the men’s singles event. In badminton, the two semi final losers are automatic third place winners.
In the women’s singles, Nigeria’s Dorcas Ajoke Adesokan, ranked 296 in the world, was a third place winner with Egypt’s Hadia Hosny who is number 87 in the world.
In women’s doubles, the Nigerian duo of Zainab Momoh and Peace Orji were final losers to India’s Simran Singhi and Ritika Thaker. The score lines were 21-11; 21-14 in favour of the Indians. Nigeria however won the silver while another Nigerian pair of Patricia Apusugh and Amin Yop Christopher won the bronze medal.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Two Nigerians pick Paris 2024 Paralympics tickets in para badminton

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The duo of Mariam Eniola Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie have qualified for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games coming up from 28th August to 8th September.

According to the Badminton World Federation, Multiple African Champion, Mariam Bolaji will represent Nigeria in the Women’s Singles Standing Lower 3 (SL3) while Jeremiah Chigozie represents Nigeria in the Men’s Singles Standing Lower 4 (SL4).

An elated Francis Orbih, President of Badminton Federation of Nigeria said the qualification of Mariam Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie is a testimony of hard work, consistency and perseverance.

Orbih who was full of joy revealed that Nigeria stands a good chance to make history by winning medals in para badminton in her debut appearance.

He said, “Today, history has been made as two players for the first time will be representing Nigeria in the para badminton event at the Paralympic Games. I am full of joy because the sacrifices of the players and the Federation were not in vain.

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“Mariam Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie have consistently attended the African Championship winning gold medals in the singles and doubles events. Last month, Mariam Bolaji won two gold medals at the Spanish Internationals in Victoria and Toledo putting her in a better position to make it to the Paralympics; which has become a reality.

“With adequate camping, foreign tours and proper funding, I believe Nigeria will win a medal in the Para Badminton event when we make our debut this year”.

Orbih once again, called on well meaning individuals to support the Badminton Federation of Nigeria in ensuring the athletes get maximum support ahead of the Olympic/Paralympic Games in Paris next August.

He said, “I will not get tired of calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria and the private sector to key into our brand and give more support to the Badminton Federation of Nigeria. We have athletes who are marketable and will sell their brands to the world with their sterling performances”.

Mariam Eniola Bolaji shocked the world by winning her first gold medal at the Spanish Para badminton International 2021 beating Oksana Kozyna from Ukraine.

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Bolaji won the women’s singles SL3 at the Uganda Para Badminton International 2023, All African Para Badminton Championship 2023 (Doubles and Mixed Doubles).

She won gold medals at the 5th Fazza Dubai Para Badminton International 2023, Egypt Para Badminton International 2024, World Para Badminton Championship 2024 in Thailand and Spanish Para Badminton International 2024.

Bolaji is also the first African player to be ranked among the top 10 in the BWF world rankings as she is currently ranked number 5 in the world.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah Chigozie won bronze medal at the Uganda Para Badminton International 2023 and three gold medals at African Para Badminton Championship 2023

He played a lesser number of championships compared to Eniola; playing in Egypt, Dubai, and World Championship in Thailand.

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Chigozie got to the quarter finals in the men’s singles SL4 category in Thailand and currently ranked number 16 in the recent BWF para Badminton ranking.

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Badminton gospel spreads to Nigeria Middle Belt region as Makurdi takes its turn

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Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN) in conjunction with its partner, Community Sport and Educational Development (CSED) Initiative, has organized a three-day Shuttle Time Teachers Course at Markurdi, Benue State.

The course ran from 25th and 27th of April, 2024.

Twenty four teachers and games masters as well as mistresses participated in the course that involved 18 schools and 75 students.

The three-day training involved both the practical and theory aspects of badminton skills which were taught by the Coordinator and Tutor of the course, Suleiman Tajudeen.

The teachers in turn  taught the students what they learnt and this was used as a means of assessment.

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As it had always been, the participating schools were given Badminton equipment such as rackets, badminton nets and shuttles courtesy of CSED as a support to the schools.

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Para Badminton: Bolaji makes history, wins another gold medal in Spain

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Nigeria Para Badminton player, Mariam Bolaji has won a gold medal to make history at the Spanish Para Badminton International 2024 Level 1 tournament in Toledo, Spain.

Bolaji beat World number 5 Mandeep Kaur from India 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) to clinch the Gold medal and remain unbeaten in two Spanish Internationals in one week.

In a stunning display of skill and determination, Bolaji faced off against some of the world’s top-ranked players and emerged victorious in every match she played.

In the first round, she defeated Coraline Bergeron from France in two straight sets 2-0 (21-9, 21-17). Bolaji continued her winning streak in the second round, defeating Parul Dalsukhbhai Parmer from India 2-0 (21-9, 21-7).

In the crucial third round, Mariam faced a formidable opponent in Manasi Girishchandra Jochi, the World number 4.

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The match was intense, with both players giving it their all. In the end, Mariam emerged victorious with a 2-0 win (22-20, 21-10). With this win, Mariam secured the top spot in the group, booking her place in the semi-finals of the tournament.

Now, in the semi-final round, Mariam faced the seeded number one player in the tournament and World number 3, Halime Yildiz from Turkey. Despite the tough competition, Mariam showed her strength and determination, defeating her opponent 2-0 (21-16, 21-8). This impressive victory earned her a spot in the much-anticipated final match.

The President of Badminton Federation of Nigeria, Francis Orbih said Bolaji has proven that her feat in Victoria a week ago was not a fluke.

Orbih also emphasised the importance of supporting and investing in athletes like Eniola, who continue to excel and bring honour to the country on the global stage.  

He said, “She has proven herself to be a formidable competitor and a force to be reckoned with. Her dedication, hard work, and talent have earned her this well-deserved win, and we are incredibly proud of her achievements.”

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He highlighted the need for more resources, training facilities, and opportunities for para badminton players in Nigeria, so that they can reach their full potential and compete at the highest level.

“Eniola’s victory is not only a personal triumph for her, but also a victory for Nigeria and for the sport of para badminton. It is a testament to the talent and determination of Nigerian athletes, and a shining example of what can be achieved with hard work, perseverance, and support from the federation and the community”

Orbih concluded by expressing his confidence in Eniola’s future success and his belief that she will continue to make Nigeria proud by winning a medal at the Paralympic Games in Paris next July.

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