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Para Badminton: Bolaji, Chigozie qualify for Paris 2024 Paralympics

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The duo of Mariam Eniola Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie have qualified for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games coming up from 28th August to 8th September.

According to the Badminton World Federation, Multiple African Champion, Mariam Bolaji will represent Nigeria in the Women’s Singles Standing Lower 3 (SL3) while Jeremiah Chigozie represents Nigeria in the Men’s Singles Standing Lower 4 (SL4).

An elated Francis Orbih, President of Badminton Federation of Nigeria said the qualification of Mariam Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie is a testimony of hard work, consistency and perseverance.

Orbih who was full of joy revealed that Nigeria stands a good chance to make history by winning medals in para badminton in her debut appearance.

He said, “Today, history has been made as two players for the first time will be representing Nigeria in the para badminton event at the Paralympic Games. I am full of joy because the sacrifices of the players and the Federation were not in vain.

“Mariam Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie have consistently attended the African Championship winning gold medals in the singles and doubles events. Last month, Mariam Bolaji won two gold medals at the Spanish Internationals in Victoria and Toledo putting her in a better position to make it to the Paralympics; which has become a reality.

“With adequate camping, foreign tours and proper funding, I believe Nigeria will win a medal in the Para Badminton event when we make our debut this year”.

Orbih once again, called on well meaning individuals to support the Badminton Federation of Nigeria in ensuring the athletes get maximum support ahead of the Olympic/Paralympic Games in Paris next August.

He said, “I will not get tired of calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria and the private sector to key into our brand and give more support to the Badminton Federation of Nigeria. We have athletes who are marketable and will sell their brands to the world with their sterling performances”.

Mariam Eniola Bolaji shocked the world by winning her first gold medal at the Spanish Para badminton International 2021 beating Oksana Kozyna from Ukraine.

Bolaji won the women’s singles SL3 at the Uganda Para Badminton International 2023, All African Para Badminton Championship 2023 (Doubles and Mixed Doubles).

She won gold medals at the 5th Fazza Dubai Para Badminton International 2023, Egypt Para Badminton International 2024, World Para Badminton Championship 2024 in Thailand and Spanish Para Badminton International 2024.

Bolaji is also the first African player to be ranked among the top 10 in the BWF world rankings as she is currently ranked number 5 in the world.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah Chigozie won bronze medal at the Uganda Para Badminton International 2023 and three gold medals at African Para Badminton Championship 2023

He played a lesser number of championships compared to Eniola; playing in Egypt, Dubai, and World Championship in Thailand.

Chigozie got to the quarter finals in the men’s singles SL4 category in Thailand and currently ranked number 16 in the recent BWF para Badminton ranking.

SPORTS

Germany Beat Hungary 2-0 to Reach Euro Last 16 

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 Hosts Germany on Wednesday became the first side to qualify for the Euro 2024 last 16 after Jamal Musiala’s controversial goal and an Ilkay Gündogan strike in a 2-0 win over an enterprising Hungary.

Croatia’s draw with Albania earlier and the situation in Group C means there will be at least two third-placed sides who cannot match Germany’s six points.

The four best third-placed teams out of six groups would qualify for the knock-out stages alongside each top two.

Germany’s 5-1 thrashing of Scotland lit up the opening of the tournament and Julian Nagelsmann unsurprisingly kept the same starting line-up.

Hungary, who lost 3-1 to Switzerland in the first match, started brightly but Germany got the opener midway through the first half.

Musiala rifled home his second of the tournament after good work from captain Gündogan.

Hungary appealed for a foul by Gündogan in the box before he pulled it back, but a video review allowed the goal.

Hungary continued to threaten but Gündogan settled matters on 67 minutes when he swept in left back Maximilian Mittelstädt’s low cross.

Manuel Neuer was kept busy on his 17th Euro appearance as he moved level with ex-Italy icon Gianluigi Buffon as the goalkeeper with the most Euro outings.

The Marco Rossi’s side also had a goal ruled out for offside.

Hungary’s hopes of progressing are slim but they next meet Scotland, who will later play against Switzerland in the other Group A game. (dpa/NAN)

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SPORTS

2024 WTT Contender: Lagos Promises Hitch-free Competition

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Lekan Fatodu, Director General, Lagos State Sports Commission, on Tuesday restated the government’s commitment to provide the right atmosphere for hosting international tournaments in the state.

Fatodu gave the assurance in his opening address at the news conference for the Lagos World Table Tennis (WTT) Contender, scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

Reports says that the event is scheduled to hold at the Molade Okoya Thomas Hall, Teslim Balogun Stadium from Wednesday June 19 to June 23.

Fatodu said that the state would parade home grown talents that would favourably contest with the international Stars at the tournament.

“It’s on a very good note that l welcome everyone to the first WTT Contender Series in Sub-Saharan Africa in the state of the Aquatic splendour, Lagos, Nigeria.

“We are very glad to welcome our Table Tennis Players to another milestone in the history of the state in promoting sporting excellence, where the WTT Contender will be unfolding for the next five days.

“As a state, we are ever ready for this kind of showpiece as our homegrown and budding players like Muizz Adegoke and Abdulbasit Abdulfatai are already warming up for the world event.

“Our indefatigable Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has been demonstrating unwavering support in sporting infrastructure,” he said.

Fatodu added that they would leave no stone unturned in the development of sports and other activities that would expose athletes in the state to international championships.

”It’s on this note that our home and international players will enjoy a hitch free tournament as the event is about to record another inspiring achievement in the ping-pong game.

“Our visiting players will also enjoy the hospitality nature of the state in terms of accommodation, transportation and our attractive tourists’ centres.

“We cannot do away with the development of sports in our circle and this 400 ITTF world ranking points Table Tennis championships.

“The championships serves as an avenue for our local players to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Brazilian Hugo Calderano, Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany, among top players ready to feature in this tournament,” he said.

Fatodu said that Lagos was a pacesetter in the sports and infrastructure development.

“Hosting another world championship in the commercial nerve centre of the country is putting the state on the world map and also creating an avenue for the budding talents to explore and excel.

“This is Lagos and we are open to subsequent major tournaments.

“Welcome to Lagos, Nigeria, where WTT Contender is taking place and we are very sure that champions will be unveiled here,” he said. (NAN)

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SPORTS

Iloenyosi Pledges Support for NUJ FCT Correspondents’ Football Tourney 

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Chairman of the Anambra Football Association, Chikelue Iloenyosi has pledged support for the second edition of the FCT Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Correspondent Chapel Football Tournament.

The three-day tournament tagged “Football for Friendship and Peace” is slated for July 11 to July 13 at the Old Parade Ground, Area 10, Abuja.

At a news conference  on Tuesday to unveil the former Super Eagles player  as a  brand ambassador for the tournament, Iloenyosi stressed the importance of such events for journalists.

“I am honoured and happy  today because of this great event that we’re about to do. Not only because l am made the ambassador, I’m going to support it massively.

“Somebody asked me  why is it that every time they are giving you award. I have been in office for one and half year and l have received 17 awards because l am into grassroots football and l am doing it with passion.

“That’s why my Governor has trust in me in everything l do.” he said.

Earlier, Jide Oyekunle, Chairman of the FCT NUJ Correspondents’ chapel underscored the power of football in promoting unity among Nigerians.

He said the chapel decided to use sports, particularly football to unite and strengthen the relationship between the media and participating organisations.

“Football does not have language. Football is an integral activity that unites the people and has the power to change the world irrespective of the religion, ethnic and political background.

“Football makes people forget their differences because it is a unifying factor. It heals the wounds and bond people together.

“It is one of the antidotes for physical fitness and mental health and alertness,  which we all need particularly in the face of the present economic realities and hardship,” he said.

Reports says that 12 teams will take part  in the much anticipated tournament.

They include; NUJ Correspondent chapel, NNPC,  Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the Federal High Court (FHC).

Others are  Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), AIBEN Group, the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN). (NAN)

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