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Nigeria’s Omotayo, Edem qualify for Paris Olympics

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Olajide Omotayo and Offiong Edem are Nigerian table tennis stars who have qualified for the 2024 Olympic Games billed to hold in Paris this summer.

A total of four players from Nigeria, Cameroon and Madagascar secured their spots at the Games after reaching the finals of the African Qualification Tournament taking place at the BK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda.

Fabio Rakotoarimanana made history in Kigali as he became the first Madagascan to qualify for the Olympic Games by beating Tunisia’s Wassim Essid 4-3 (13-11, 8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 4-11, 11-9) in the second semifinal of the men’s singles at the qualifiers.

Nigeria’s Edem was the first to secure her spot after a pulsating 4-3 win over Tunisia’s Fadwa Garci in the semifinal of the continental qualification championships.

Edem, who will be attending her fifth Olympic Games after featuring at Athens 2004, London 2012, Rio 2016, and Tokyo 2020, had to raise her game to beat the Tunisian in an energy-sapping encounter at 11-9, 8-11, 11-13, 11-1, 11-8, and 11-6.

Cameroon’s Sarah Hannfou joined the league of players heading to Paris after another action-packed tie against Nigeria’s Fatimo Bello.

The two-time Olympian lost the first game 1-11 but restored parity in the second game with an 11-9 win. She continued her dominance with 11-5 and 11-9 wins to take a 3-1 lead.

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But Bello stretched the match with a 10-12 win to put the encounter at 3-2. Hanffou did not want the Nigerian to make a comeback, and with the cheers from the spectators at the BK Arena, the Cameroonian sealed her place in Paris with an 11-7 win to complete a 4-2 triumph (1-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7) in the women’s singles.

In the men’s singles, Nigeria’s Omotayo had an easy passage to Paris after a dominant 4-0 (11-6, 11-4, 12-10, 11-7) win over Saheed Idowu of Congo Brazzaville.

The 2019 African Games champion and tournament’s top seed will be making his second appearance at the Olympic Games after his maiden outing at Tokyo 2020.

Fabio Rakotoarimanana became the first Madagascan to qualify for the Olympic Games by beating Tunisia’s Wassim Essid 4-3 (13-11, 8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 4-11, 11-9) in the second semifinal of the men’s singles at the qualifiers.

The remaining two slots for the continent will be contested by 12 players who made it to the quarterfinals of the first stage of qualification on Saturday, May 18.

Over 50 players from 15 countries competed at the three-day qualification tournament hosted by the Rwanda Table Tennis Federation (RTTF).

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