Nigeria begins chase for 2024 Paralympics tickets in Italy
By Ifeanyi Eduzor
Nigeria will join the rest of the world to compete at the ITTF Lignano Masters Para Open which serves as a pathway to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in France.
The tournament which began on Wednesday March 15 in Italy had more than 100 players competing at the four-day championships in their bid to shore up ranking points for qualification to the 2024 Games.
A 15-man Nigerian contingent was sponsored to the event by the Delta State government and the team has Commonwealth medalists; Isau Ogunkunle, Nasiru Sule and Faith Obazuaye all aiming to garner points to be certain of their eventual qualification for Paris 2024.
Aside the Commonwealth trio, others in the contingent include 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 expected to compete in the singles, team and doubles’ events.
Meanwhile, Captain of the team Tajudeen Agunbiade has commended Delta State Government for their immense support to the team while pledging to make the country proud in Italy.
“I must thank the Delta State Government for their support to the team and I want to assure all Nigerians that we’re 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 and we thank the Governor of Delta State, Senator 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.
Manager of the team Sunday Odebode said the players are in good shape to do well.
“The team is really prepared despite training during the election period and the situation of the country but we still managed to get approval from Delta State Government to sponsor the team on the pathway to the Paris 2024 Paralympics.
“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 said.