The 5th edition of the Lagos Badminton Classics got underway on Wednesday at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.
28 Nigerian players (19 male and 9 females) took part in the qualification round for the main draw on Day 1.
Only 3 female players made it to the main draw scheduled to commence on Thursday. Tosin Damilola Atolagbe, Felicia Omotola and Sofiat Arinola Obanishola.
Atolagbe saw off Ghana’s Mensah Quaye 21-11, 21-12 and compatriot Ruth Aiyenugba 24-22, 21-16 while Omotola beat Aminat Olatunji 21-14, 21-11 and Obanishola defeated Opeyemi Helen Ojo 21-17, 21-3.
Speaking to the media at the event, President of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria, Francis Orbih commended the quality of play displayed on Day 1.
“From the calibre and quality of players that have entered for this championship we didn’t expect less than what we are seeing now which is very keenly contested and very high level of play.
“Everyone is here trying to gather points ahead of next year in Tokyo so they are all here to fight. The standard of play has been very high it is influenced more by the quality of players that have come here to participate,” said Orbih.
The BFN boss promised to support the top players in their quest to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“We have three players who are on the verge of qualifying for the Olympics we have a player in the men’s singles, women’s singles and two players in the men’s doubles. They are all ranked number one in Africa in this three events and if they are able to maintain the tempo and attend many internationals as possible you can be rest assured they will qualify and play in the Olympics. If that happens it will be the first time in 12 years that Nigeria have qualified for the Olympics the last time they played was in 2008 and before then only once in Atlanta 1996.
“We are going to give them all the support to make sure they attend enough internationals to qualify for the Olympics next year.”
Action will continue on Thursday with 12 Nigerian players competing in the main draw. Top on the list is Africa’s number one men and women’s singles champion, Anu Opeyori and Dorcas Adesokan.