The second edition of this year’s Valuejet Para Table Tennis Open Championship has been scheduled to commence on December 19 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos State, the organisers have said.

They disclosed that hundreds of athletes from around the federation, including Tokyo-bound Paralympians, Isau Ogunkunle; Commonwealth Games silver medalist, Faith Obazuaye; Sydney 2000 Paralympics gold medalists, Tajudeen Agunbiade and Olufemi Alabi are already in Lagos for the three-day championship.

The championship is being organised by the Sunday Odebode Foundation and sanctioned by the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF).

According to the organisers, with some of the Paralympians already in camp, the tournament will serve as a testing ground for the athletes looking forward to representing the country in next year’s championships. It also serves as a good hunting ground for players from outside Lagos, as it is the only para-table tennis event this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on the challenge, Odebode said this year’s event would be organised nationally with players targeting to be part of the national team’s Paralympics squad in table tennis event.

“We are grateful to our sponsor, Valuejet Airline, which has decided to keep faith with the staging of the competition. We are indeed appreciative of their commitment to the tournament. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be staging this year nationally with the hope that new players would emerge this year.”

“There are interests from other African countries to be part of this year’s event, but the closure of our borders, as well as other factors would not allow them to make it to Nigeria. But we will ensure that we follow the laid-down COVID-19 protocol during the tournament while the social distance would also be maintained,” he said.

Odebode, who is also the coordinator of the championship, said the event would help the players shape up for next year’s National Sports Festival slated for Edo State, adding that the Tokyo-bound Paralympians would also use it as a tune-up to the biggest sporting event in Japan.

He stated that players would compete in 44 events, which attracts cash prizes for the outstanding athletes.

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