A 15-man contingent of Team Nigeria’s para-athletes is featuring at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Lignano Masters Open in Italy.
More than 100 players are featuring in the four-day championship, which will reward participants with ranking points to bolster their qualification for 2024 Paralympics.
The team, sponsored by the Delta State government, includes Commonwealth medalists, Isau Ogunkunle, Nasiru Sule and Faith Obazuaye. Also in the squad are Tokyo 2020 Paralympics bronze medalist, Tajudeen Agunbiade, Olufemi Alabi, Victor Farinloye, Kayode Alabi, Bolawa Akingbemisilu, Ibrahim Soares, Faith Obiora, Ifechukwude Ikpeoyi, Maimuna Habib, Kehinde Lawal, Ganiyat Shoremekun and Ahmed Koleosho. They are competing in the singles, team and doubles’ events.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Skipper Agunbiade extoled Delta State for supporting the team, while promising to do the country proud in Italy.
“I must thank the Delta State government for their support to the team. The team is well prepared for the tournament because we had rigorous training before departing Lagos at the weekend.
“This is just one of the many tournaments we need to attend to qualify for the 2024 Paralympics Games in Paris. We thank Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for the sponsorship and we promise to make Nigeria proud.
“We just want Nigerians to continue to support special athletes, morally and spiritually and by the grace of God, we shall continue to represent and bring glory to the country,” he said.
On the trip, the team manager, Sunday Odebode, said the players are in good shape to perform well at the championship.
“The team has really prepared well despite training during the election period and the situation in the country. And we still managed to get approval from Delta State government to sponsor the team.
“This is our first tournament of the year and Nigeria will also be hosting a tournament on the pathway to Paris in Lagos in October,” he stated.