Nigeria’s table tennis star, Aruna Quadri made history after winning the 2018 edition of the ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open 2018 on Sunday.
Quadri came from behind to see off Antoine Hachard of France in a tightly contested Men’s Singles final at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we present to you the 2018 ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open winner, ARUNA QUADRI!!! #NigeriaOpen2018 #YourSportsMemo pic.twitter.com/ciZ5N1OLpe
— ACLSports (@acl_sports) August 12, 2018
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The top seed defeated Hachard 4-2 after their pulsating encounter ended 11-13, 11-3, 6-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7.
With an electrifying support from the home fans behind him, Quadri becomes the first ever Nigerian to win the ITTF Challenge. It was his fifth attempt in the competition, and it comes as a relief for him that he finally has a winner’s medal.
“It’s unbelievable,” an appreciative Quadri said of the support from fans at the stadium, moments after the game. “God used the fans to favour me. I am very happy to have finally won.”
The final was not as easy as the result suggests, as despite the support from the home fans, Quadri found himself a set down after Hachard took the opening set 13-11.
The Nigerian bounced back to level scores in the second set, but his French opponent would not go down without a fight as he took the third 11-9 for a 2-1 lead.
However, Quadri showed why he is ranked 18 in the world, as he regained his composure in the presence of the Governor of Lagos state, Akinwumi Ambode, to win the next three sets to seal his historic win.
The Nigerian, however, would be allowed to participate thanks to his world ranking,
Meanwhile, China’s Guo Yan was the biggest winner in the Nigerian Open, after winning both the U21 Women’s singles and Women’s Singles events.
Yan defeated two of her compatriots in both events, first was Fan Si Qi, who lost the U21 final 3-1 on Saturday.
But in the women’s main event, it was a more difficult game for Yan, who was pushed to her limits in the final on Sunday by another of her fellow countrywoman, this time, Sun Chen.Yan came from a set down to win 4-3 for a 7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 9-11, 11-4, 12-10.
The annual ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open started as a pilot in 2013, with the 2018 edition seeing a record 169 players made up of 108 men and 61 women from 27 countries.
With a total $46,000 in prize money, the championship has the second highest prize money among the nine ITTF Challenge Series.