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2018 National Sports Festival: Oshonaike out, Toriola advances 

Tournament’s favourite – Olufunke Oshonaike on Monday played her last match at the ongoing National Sports Festival holding in Abuja after the former African champion was shown the exit in the quarterfinal round of the women’s singles by Nimota Aregbesola of Lagos State.
Nimota Aregbesola

 

Unlike Oshonaike, Segun Toriola trudged on after beating Lagos State’ David Fayele to berth in the semifinal stage of the men’s singles.

Oshonaike who is representing Akwa Ibom State alongside Toriola lost 3-4 (9-11,12-10,11-7,6-11,3-11,12-10,12-4) narrowly to 2018 Asoju Oba Cup runner’s up in an epic match watched by Abuja fans.

An excited Aregbesola described the victory as surprising. “I can believe that I won this match. I feel like I’m dreaming. I never thought I could beat her when we started the game. I thank God that because beating a top player like Funke Oshonaike at this stage of my table tennis career is a big achievement. During the match, I was just praying, so I’m satisfied with the victory and I hope I can win gold in the singles at the end. She is my role model; she is a player I look up to playing someday with but not to the extent of beating her. I must confess, it’s just like a dream for me,” the Lagos athlete said.

However, Oshonaike was magnanimous in defeat. “Nobody can tell me which competition to compete in as long as my body is still active to play. People were saying why did I come for the festival? Let me say that I enjoy playing at the festival and it’s not a big deal that I lost out in the quarter finals. This is a game where a winner must emerge. “I’m happy to be an inspiration to the younger ones .I feel fulfilled in this game and won’t bother what the critics are saying. Although I’m sad that I didn’t win gold medal for my adopted state, Akwa Ibom but deep down my heart, I love Akwa Ibom,” she said.

For the women’s singles semifinal pairing, Aregbesola battles Ajoke Ojomu of Abuja while Cross River’s Cecelia Akpan takes on Funmiloa Ajala of Oyo State.

For the men’s singles semifinal matches, Toriola will take on Ogun State’s Kehinde Oladele while Bayelsa’s Ganiyu Ashimiyu clash against Osun State’s Lateef Oyeniyi.

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