From Makoko to Paris: BFN Celebrates Opeyori’s Back-to-back Qualification for Olympics

Duro Ikhazuagbe 

The Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN) board led by Francis Orbih rolled out the red carpet last Friday in Lagos to celebrate Nigeria and African champion, Anuoluwapo Opeyori who is the first badminton player in the country to qualify for a second Olympic Games.

 Opeyori who has dominated African badminton scene in the men’s singles from 2019 till date, won  four African Championship titles and two African Games titles to be amongst the 175 players from around the world to battle for podium placements in Paris.

Speaking at the well-attended send-forth ceremony at the Civic Centre on Ozumba Mbadiwe Street in Victoria Island in Lagos, President of the BFN, Francis Orbih said his federation decided to celebrate Opeyori and all those who stood by the player as a way of thanking them for their support.

“The road to the qualification of Anu Opeyori for a second  Olympic Games was a difficult one. He’s the first Nigerian player to play in the singles and the reason we are all gathered here is to thank you all that made it possible. First I must thank former Lagos State Commissioner for Sports, Wahid Enitan-Oshodi for his untiring support for Opeyori and our federation and all our sponsors,” began Orbih.

He recalled how Enitan-Oshodi urged him and all the other past chairmen of sports associations in Lagos State not to cut corners by getting ready-made players. 

“Barrister Enitan-Oshodi urged us to go to the grassroots of Lagos to get talents to groom into future stars instead of joining the bandwagon of getting ‘readymade’ athletes to compete for Lagos. One of the results is Anuoluwapo Opeyori who rose from the slum of Makoko in Yaba to be heading to Paris to compete in his second Olympic Games back-to-back.

“Three years ago, it was Dorcas Adesokan who played in the women’s singles and Opeyori with his partner Godwin Olofua in the men’s doubles that made it to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Today, Anuoluwapo Opeyori will represent Nigeria in the men’s singles; the leadership of BFN and Nigeria are proud of him,” gushed the BFN President with excitement.

He thanked sponsors of the BFN that includes; Lagos State Government, Studio 24, GIG Logistics, Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc, OWU sportswear, Bond Blobal Energy Projects Ltd, ValueJets, Ikoyi Club 1938, AVIS, SCSP, Mirror Homes, MIKANO,Dufil, Golden Star Badminton Club, Nobleserve and Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc.

“Without you, we will not be here celebrating today. We thank you for your support over the years,”observed Orbih.

He also hinted that Eniola Bolaji who will also be taking part in the Para Badminton will join hands with the others to ensure that Nigeria gets podium placement in Paris 2024.

After Opeyori’s first phase camping in Italy, the African champion will join the foreign camp organised by the Federal Ministry of Sports in Germany from the 1st to 21st of July and in between play the Mauritius international from 11th to 14th July before heading to France for the Olympic.

President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) Habu Gummel who was physically present at the ceremony in Lagos, praised the BFN for becoming the first federation amongst the 17 that will present athletes to represent Nigeria to honour its athletes.

“This is the first federation out of 17 to celebrate your athletes going to the Games. So far we have 75 athletes going to represent Nigeria in Paris Olympic Games so far and here we are the BFN celebrating our athletes. I feel honoured and glad to be here. It is really motivating for the athletes. I pray Opeyori will do Nigeria proud.”

The NOC president urged Nigerian athletes to compete clean and avoid anything that will tarnish the name of the country by way of doping. “ we want to go to Paris clean and return home with clean athletes.”

Amongst some of the dignitaries at the event include; Gummel, Wahid Enitan-Oshodi, three past Badminton presidents of Ikoyi Club 1938, OWU Sportswear  Chairman, Tunji Brown, A-list Comedian, Ali Baba, Managing Directors and senior officials of some of the sponsoring brands of the BFN.

Related Articles