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I Had No Coach, Accommodation, Says Female Table Tennis Gold Medalist

By Chris Njoku

Hope Udoaka, a gold medalist at the Renewed Hope Table Tennis Invitational Challenge held at the Indoor Sports Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium has disclosed that she had no coach or accommodation during the tourney.

The athlete who represents Cross River made the revelation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Calabar.

NAN reports that Udoaka who is currently Nigeria’s number one junior table tennis champion defeated Shukurat Aiyelabegan from Kwara by three sets to one in the final.

The 200 Level student of Library and Information Science who had earlier won two gold medals at the West Africa University Games and a gold medal in the Michael and Felicia Alabi Table Tennis Championship, defeated Rashidat Ogundele from Delta in the quarter-final.

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She also defeated Bose Odunsanya of Lagos in the semi-finals, both players are former and present national team players respectively and are players in the senior category.

Udoaka said though the competition was tough, determination and will saw her through.

“The matches were tough, I didn’t have a coach by my side, I was playing and coaching myself and I was able to defeat a current and a former national team player.

“I dreamt about participating in the Renewed Hope tourney even though I had no support from my state, I arrived in Lagos two days before the competition to acclimatise but I had no accommodation, so I was sleeping with other states.

“I had to invest all the allowance I got from the West Africa University Games where I represented my school in the Renewed Hope competition yet it was not enough because I had to appeal for where to sleep and feed,” she said.

According to her, she was among the first 20 table tennis players slated for the event but without accommodation and proper feeding, it was difficult because a hungry man does not win competitions.

She said it was sad that everyone sees table tennis as an individual sport and the sponsorship and support is low but when the glory comes everybody wants to share in what they did not support.

She said upcoming players needed support to get good rackets, balls, tables for training and sponsorship to go for competitions, adding that it was the only way they could grow.

She commended some of the foreign-based stars like Offiong Edem, Haruna Qadiri who came home and encouraged upcoming players with facilities and competitions while appealing to state governments to follow suit.

The Renewed Hope Table Tennis Championship which was held at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Indoor Sports Hall on Saturday, Dec. 23 was organised by the National Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) and Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC).

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