The reign of Egypt in the boys’ singles event came to an end at the weekend after Nigeria claimed the large portion of the gold medals at stake in the events at the just concluded ITTF African Junior and Cadet Championship held in Accra, Ghana.
But the consolation for Egypt came in the U-21 boys singles as Mahmoud Helmy beat Nigeria’s Augustine Emmanuel 4-1 to the title.
But the star attraction for Nigeria were Azeez Solanke and Taiwo Matti who claimed the gold medals in the junior and cadet singles of the competition at the expense of Egypt who have dominated the division for years.
Solanke won both the junior boys’ singles title and partnering Jamiu Ayanwale to strike gold in the junior boys’ doubles.
In both events played on the final day, Solanke ended Egyptian hopes. In the junior boys’ singles event, after having accounted for Abdelraham Dendan at the quarter-final stage, a contest in which the Egyptian had to eventually withdraw owing to injury (11-5, 10-12, 11-7, 11-6, ret), he beat Ahmed El-Borhamy (11-5, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8) and Marwan Abdelwahab (13-11, 4-11, 10-12, 11-5, 13-11, 11-6) to secure the title.
Defeat for Marwan Abdelwahab who, in the later rounds, had ousted Nigeria’s Abayomi Animasahun (11-9, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-8) and Tunisia’s Aboubaker Bourass (11-8, 11-8, 11-3, 11-7), in the junior boys’ doubles final partnering colleague Gawad El-Herazy, it was also defeat. They suffered at the hands of Jamiu Ayanwale and Solanke (11-8, 11-7, 11-6).
The top step of the podium for Ayanwale, in the cadet boys’ singles event, after accounting for Tunisia’s Habib Ameur (11-6, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7), it was the second step. He was beaten in the final by compatriot Taiwo Mati (11-8, 11-4, 11-9, 11-8). Impressively, at the semi-final stage, Taiwo Mati had ousted Egypt’s Mohamed Sameh (11-6, 11-3, 11-5, 11-4).
Success for Solanke and Mati on the concluding day of play and it was more success; earlier both had been members of the successful U-21 men’s team, in addition Solanke had secured the top prize in the junior boys’ team event, Mati had struck cadet boys’ team gold.