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Players jostle to make team to ITTF World Junior Championships

Participants at the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) camp for the selection of players for the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Junior Championships in Cape Town, South Africa say victory is their watchword.

The players told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday at the Knock-up Hall of the National Stadium, Lagos training venue that making the team was their utmost desire.

20 players made up of 12 boys and eight girls are being camped for the championships scheduled to serve off on Nov. 30 and end Dec. 7.

The invited male players are Abayomi Animasahun, Azeez Solanke, Amadi Umeh, Michael Abayomi, Augustine Emmanuel, Jamiu Ayanwale, Ololade Oyenekan, Tobi Falana, Etim Orok, Babafemi Babatunde and Umar Ibrahim.

The girls are Tosin Oribamise, Agnes Onoja, Ajoke Ojomu, Alimot Ayinla, Rofiat Jimoh, Iyanuoluwa Falana, Vivian Akpan and Sukurat Aiyelabegan.

The players are being tutored under the watchful eyes of seven-time Olympian, Segun Toriola, as part of his efforts to inspire young players.

Some of the players were part of the team that featured at the ITTF African Junior Championship in Algiers where they qualified for the World Juniors.

Also, the outstanding players at the national U-16 tournament in May also made the camp.

The countries that will represent Africa at the world junior tournament are Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Tunisia.

Animasahun, selected from among the U-16, told NAN that his target was making the eventual team to South Africa.

He said that he was putting in his best to ensure that the wish came to light.

“It is a tough one because every player in camp has the potential of making the team. It is our personal best that will be considered during the final selection.

“I am focused and will exhibit my skills so as to make the list,’’ he said.

Kogi-born Ibrahim promised to give his all at the training to make it to South Africa which, he noted, would ultimately help him to progress in his career.

He said that he aimed at playing with others from the participating countries, adding: “I want to use the competition to expose myself the more and improve my skills.

“I love challenges and I see the going to the championships as a very big one for me to showcase my talent.”

Umeh, who plies his table tennis trade in Ekiti, said that he had been training prior to their call to camp and expressed the hope of making the team.

He said that he trained daily after school and at weekends under his coach, Dotun Omoniyi.

“I am on a constant training programme even when a competition is not at hand. This is to always keep in top form,’’ he said.

A female, Akpan from Cross River, said that he ultimate desire was to represent the country and make a name in Cape Town.

She added that none of the female players in camp would intimidate her.

“We are all in a competition fighting for placements, and I won’t give room for intimidation.

“I believe that I have what it takes to make the team and I just need to be focused and consistent,’’ she said.

Another female player, Aiyelabegan, said that if selected, she would make the country proud, adding: “I am aiming at winning medals at the competition,’’ she said.

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