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Team Nigeria dazzles at ITTF French Para Open

Four Nigerians narrowly missed gold medal spots at the ITTF SQY French Para Open 2021, as the quartet of Ahmed Koleosho, Faith Obazuaye, Nasiru Sule, and Isau Ogunkunle had to settle for silver medals in their respective individual events at the three-day championships held in Voisins les Bretonneux, a Paris suburb in France.

Having fought his way to the final, Koleosho who is second seed narrowly lost to France’s Yorick Adjal in the final 3-2 (11-9, 11-9, 10-12, 5-11, 12-10), while Ogunkunle also lost to Korea’s Young-gun Kim 3-0 (11-6, 13-11, 17-15) in the men’s class four.

In the Men’s Class five, Nasiru Sule who was unbeaten from the group stage to the final stage, was also unlucky against Norway’s Tommy Urhaug as he lost 3-0 (12-10, 12-10, 11-5).

Both Kim Hakjin and Frenchmen Clément Berthier secured gold beating top-seeded opposition in the finals; Kim Hakjin overcame Hungary’s Endre Major (6-11, 4-11, 11-9, 11-7, 13-11); Clément Berthier accounted for Nigeria’s Victor Farinloye (11-7, 11-8, 11-7) in the men’s class eight.

2018 Commonwealth Games silver medalist Faith Bazuaye failed in her quest to win the gold medal in the Women’s class 10 as she was beaten in the final by Hungary’s Alexa Szvitacs 3-1 (9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4).

Likewise, Kim Gitae maintained a consistent performance level. In the group stage he accounted for Frenchman, Lucas Creange, the no.2 seed (12-10, 11-7, 10-12, 11-8), in the final when they met again, he repeated the performance (11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5).

Notably at the semi-final stage Lucas Creange had beaten Hungary’s Peter Palos, the top seed (6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5), the player against whom in the same round he had experienced defeat at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (14-12, 9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 13-11).

In the women’s event, Great Britain’s Fliss Pickard, the no.2 seed, secured the class 6 title at the expense of Poland’s Katarzyna Marszal, the top seed (11-4, 9-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7).

Nigeria is expected to battle for gold medals in two finals of team events.

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