Badminton players at the Lagos International Badminton Classics which served off on Wednesday, 24/07/2019 at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
The President, Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN), Francis Orbih, on Wednesday gave a bright hope of Nigeria badminton players qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Japan after 12 years in the doldrums.
Orbih gave the ray of hope in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the ongoing Lagos International Badminton Classics which served off on Wednesday.
NAN reports that the 5th Lagos International Badminton Classics is ongoing at the Sir Molade Okoya-Thomas Indoor Sports Hall, Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere.
More than 34 countries are in attendance at the highest ranked Badminton tournament in Africa which will end on Saturday.
Orbih told NAN that three Nigerian badminton players were on the verge of qualification to the Olympics, a feat that was last achieved during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“Right now, Nigeria has three players who are on the verge of qualification to the Olympics, Tokyo 2020. We have players in the Men’s Single and Doubles events.
“These three players are all rated number one in Africa and if they can maintain the tempo to attend as many international competition as possible, I can assure Nigerians that they will be in the Olympics.
“Their qualification is coming for the first time in the last 12 years because the last time we qualified for Olympics was in 2008 Beijing Olympics and before that, Atlanta 96.
“The players that we have high hope on are Aanuoluwapo Opeyeri and Godwin Onafuwa who are ranked number one in the doubles and Dorcas Adesokan, Africa’s number one female player,” he said.
Orbih said the federation would work assiduously to support the players who were on the verge of qualifications, adding that they were already in the required rankings for qualification to the Olympics.
“For us in the federation, ours is to give maximum support to these players and we promise to make every effort to encourage them to attend many international championships as possible.
“We want to put them in a good position to qualify for the Olympics because with their position they should qualify, they are already in the top 100 in the world.
“The required ranking for the Olympics is 50, but, they are already in 35 position for the Olympics qualifiers, so we expect them to make the cut by Gods grace,” he said.
Orbih appraised the ongoing Lagos International Badminton Classics saying the standard and attendance was well up to the required being an Olympic year.
“With the caliber of players registered for this Lagos International Badminton Classics, we expect a tough and interesting challenge. The quality of players here is high.
“It is also an Olympic year, everybody is here to garner points for the Tokyo 2020, so they are here to fight and we expect a high standard in terms of performance from them.
“This has been a tradition of having quality play among the players and we expect that this year will not be an exception from what we have been having or even higher performance,” he said. (NAN)