Nigeria’s Tajudeen Agunbiade (L) serves beside teammate Alabi Olufemi during the men’s table tennis team quarter-final (classes 9-10) at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Tokyo on August 31, 2021. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)

Team Nigeria’s men’s para-table tennis team added one more bronze to the country’s kitty at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, yesterday afternoon, to raise the nation’s medals to haul to seven. With the latest addition, Nigeria is now the 23rd best country at the games.

The duo of Tajudeen Agunbiade and Olufemi Alabi, who edged out the USA in the round of 16 and Montenegro in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, had to settle for the bronze as they failed to find their rhythm against Ma Lin and Joel Coughlan of Australia to push into the gold medal match.

They lost 1-3 with 10-12; 11-8; 10-12 and 5-11) in the doubles, while Agunbiade also lost 2-3 to Ma Lin in the only singles match after taking the first two sets.

Speaking to after the encounter, Agunbiade said they put in their best but the Australians had the technical advantage.

“When we lost the doubles, I was determined to fight hard to level up against Ma so that Olufemi could have a chance against Joel Coughlan for us to see how it will go.

“I must confess though that my opponent had a technical edge. I found his serves very difficult and he was very swift and had good reflexes to counter my attacks,” Tajudeen said.

“All the same, we are happy that we came to the Paralympic Games and we are returning with a medal.” We would have loved the gold or silver but it is also not easy to finish as third in the world.”

Joel Coughlan however had praises for the Nigerian team, saying they were not easy opponents.

“They are very unorthodox players. They come from different positions and make it hard for you to keep your rhythm,” he said.

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