Top seed, Aruna Quadri Sunday has become the first Nigerian to win the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Challenge (Nigeria Open), as he defeated Frenchman, Hachard Antoine en-route to winning the competition.
The world No.18 made history in front of dignitaries which include the Governor Akiwunmi Ambode, Nigerian basketball star, Olumide Oyedeji, hip-hop singer Tony Tetuila amongst others.
Dubbed favourite to win the championship, Aruna never disappointed when he took out Thailand’s Wisutmaythangkoon Supanut in four straight sets 11-9, 14-12, 11-9, 11-8 in the first semi-final match.
In the second semis, Hatchard Antoine comfortably beat Rumgay Gavin of Scotland before succumbing to Aruna, in the final – 13-11, 3-11, 11-8, 7-11, 5-11, and 7-11.
Speaking on his success, Quadri attributed his victory to the fans that came out to support him.
“With all the support that I got today from the fans, shouting all because of me. It means it is God that has made this victory possible not because that I am better. It is because God just favoured me and today I am very happy that I did not disappoint them.
“This year, I have played already in three finals and I lost two, that is the African final, and the Commonwealth Games, but tonight which is the third final, I am happy that I finally won a final match. Antoine Hachard is a very good player.”
At the occasion, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode said Quadri’s victory, being the first Nigerian to attain the feat, would further spur the state and strengthen his desire towards sports development in Lagos.
“With this, we will increase our investment in sports and work effortlessly to attract investors into the game in Lagos. Based on what we did this year, which was giving financial bonus to Nigerians that qualified, we will embark on a strategy that will ensure that more Nigerians, especially local players, participate in the tournament next year.
“These are part of the Lagos masterplan for sports, which also include the construction and expansion of stadia across the state. I can also assure you that next year, we will be hosting the tournament in a hall that can accommodate 16 sets simultaneously with a 5000 capacity,” he stated.