The 3rd edition of the Lagos International Badminton Classics began on Wednesday, 26th of July and ended on Saturday, 29th of July as a fun-filled and eye-opening event especially for the Nigerian athletes who have always clamoured for international exposure. The event which held at the Molade Okoya Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere-Lagos, was organised by the Lagos State Government through the Lagos State Sports Commission in collaboration with the National Badminton Association of Nigeria.
The tournament paraded some highly ranked badminton players around the world like: Isreal’s Misha Zilberman (55), Italy’s Rosario Maddaloni (87), Rahul Yadav Chittaboina (134) from India, Hadia Hosny (80) and Doha Hany (131) from Egypt, Vaidehi Choudhari (177), Dorcas Adesokan (203) and Grace Gabriel (206) from Nigeria. The Nigerian contingent had up to 25 players of the total 70 players from 11 different countries around the world – Italy, India, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Portugal, Benin Republic, Cameroon and Israel; and they all competed in 5 different categories: Men and Women’s singles, Men and Women’s doubles and the Mixed doubles category.
The competition began with qualifying series where players cancelled each other out. The competition became stiffer on the 3rd day as the quarter-final and semi-final matches took place for all 5 categories. The major highlight of the competition was the game between 19 year-old Rahul Chittaboina and Misha Zilberman (55) in the men’s singles semi-finals.
Rahul who eventually went on to win this category defeated Misha Zilberman of Isreal in the semis in a keenly contested match. Rahul took the first set by 21-13 and was well on course to take the second set when Zilberman rallied back amidst loud cheers from the crowd to eventually win the second set by 24-22. Rahul in his usual fashion raced into the lead in the third set, Zilberman tried all the available tricks and fell short losing by 21-14 as he could not overcome the 19 year-old. Rahul then went on to defeat his compatriot in the finals to win win the sum of $2200. When asked about this victory and what it meant to him he said: ‘Playing with Zilberman, last year I lost to him in the German open and it was a statement. Yesterday (semi-final) it was a good match and it gave me confidence I could do more and that made it easier today (finals).’
For the women’s single category, Nigeria’s Dorcas (282) defeated India’s Eshita Raju to make it to the semi-finals of the competition for the first time in three attempts, but had to settle for third place as she lost out to Mugdha Agrey from india in the semis. Having previously lost out at the quarter-final in the last two editions she said: In the end, 21year-old Sri Lankan, Thilini Pramodika Hendahewa defeated Agrey M. to emerge winner of the women’s single as she also went home with $2200.
‘This is my first time in Nigeria and I am very happy to have won the females doubles and singles. This tournament is very important for my rankings. I was in 616 in international rankings and this win gives me extra 4000 points in women’s singles,’ she said. Having played against a Nigerian player, she had a piece of advice for Nigerian athletes: ‘The Nigerian players have power but they have to improve their skills to play better.’ Each runner-up of the singles category was rewarded with $1175, semi and quarter-finalists went home with $650 and $225 each.
Nigeria made it to the finals of the men and women’s doubles, only to put up an underwhelming performance as they came up against India’s Manu Attri and Reddy Sumeeth (33); Sri Lanka’s Thilini Pramodika Hendahewa and Ishadika Kavidi respectively. The 4 winners got the sum of $725 each while each runner-up took home $400. The semi-finalists in 3rd place also got the sum of $175.
Winner of the mixed doubles category, mother and son – Svetlana and Misha Zilberman took home $725. While Duarte Nuno Anjo and Sophia Setim of Portugal got $400 each as runner-up and the semi-finalists who made it into 3rd place got the sum of $175.
At the event were some sports administrators in the country like The Director General of the Lagos States Sports Commission, Mr Adewunmi G. Ogunsanya; The Special Adviser to the Governor on Sports, Mr Deji Tinubu; The President of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria, Mr Francis Orbih; President of the Nigerian Table Tennis Federation, Engr. Ishaku Tikon.