Nigeria’s Animasahun Finishes Second At ITTF Hopes Challenge in China

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Nigeria's Abayomi Animasahun (second left) during the medal presentation at the 2015 ITTF Hopes Challenge in Shanghai, China at the weekend.
Nigeria’s Abayomi Animasahun (second left) during the medal presentation at the 2015 ITTF Hopes Challenge in Shanghai, China at the weekend.

Twelve year-old Abayomi Animasahun once again made Nigeria proud in far-away Shanghai, China when he defied all odds to finish second in the boys’ singles of the 2015 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Hopes Challenge.
Animasahun, who has continued to compliment his feat at his first international competition at the Egypt Junior Open in June when he won the U-12 boys’ singles while he also finished among the top eight at the China Junior Open last week, was the toast of ITTF officials who described the Ekiti State-born player as Africa’s prospect in the sport.
From the group stage, Animasahun made nonsense of some of the highly-rated players from the Netherlands and Thailand to settle for second place having lost to United States’ Nikhil Kumar in one of the three matches in the preliminary round. But for placing second, he joined the American boy to qualify for the semi-final stage.
In the quarterfinal match, he continued his fine form when he overcame New Zealand’s Nathan Xu 8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-5) to set up a semi-final tie against Belgium’s Adrian Rassefosse which he won. He finally set up a rematch against the American boy who had earlier defeated him in the group stage.
However, what befell Animasahun happened again in the final match as the American won the match at 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 to be crowned the boys’ champion.
But the performance of the young Nigerian attracted accolades from ITTF Education and Training Coordinator, Dejan Papic.
“Animasahun attracted a lot of attention, first he managed to outlast Nathan Xu of New Zealand in long top spin exchanges. The surprise victory made him hot, he moved better in the semi-final against Belgium’s Adrian Rassefosse and played with increased confidence. But in final, he ran out of steam and American Kumar played better in each game. It seemed the fact that Kumar being a left hander was one of the deciding factors,” Papic said.
In the girls’ singles, it was Egypt’s Sara Elhakem who emerged winner after beating Germany’s Sophie Kee in the final.
Animasahun’s compatriot, Muibat Bello failed to make it to the podium having finished eighth among the 16 players that competed in the event.

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