Nigeria’s Ojo Onaolapo surrendered the Under-21 Men’s Singles title at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Lagos Open Tour after dropping a two-game lead to lose 2-3 to Egypt’s Shady Magdy.
Egypt were celebrating double successes on Thursday evening as Dina Meshref- the highest ranked competitor in the Under-21 Women’s Singles- also emerged victorious.
Onaolapo cruised into the showdown at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Indoor Sports Hall on the back of a straight games victory over Egypt’s Ahmed Mabrouk, but lost his title defence in a dramatic manner.
Having taken the first two games, the 20-year-old handed over the next two contests, as well as a close deciding fifth game to concede a 6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-9 defeat.
“I cannot really explain what happened today, I was leading two-nil and I lost the match”, Onaolapo told Olalekan Okusan, the Media Officer for the ITTF-African Table Tennis Federation.
“It is painful and I can say I was just unlucky today because I put the ball on the table, he also did the same; I am not really happy because I cannot just understand what befell me today.”
Second seed Magdy, 19, accounted for the hosts nation’s Akimwale Fagbamlia in the last 4 12-10, 11-8, 11-9, before upsetting seeding against a player ranked a place above him to claim the title.
“I am so happy winning my first tournament at senior level because this is my first ever Under 21 Men’s Singles event,” he said.
“I knew I could win because when I was two-nil down, I just told myself that the match had just started. My coach encouraged me to fight.”
It was all plain sailing for Meshref in the U-21 Women’s Singles event as the Egyptian clinched the title without a loss of a single game.
Meshref sailed past compatriot Yousra Helmy 11-7, 13-11, 11-8 in Thursday’s final. She had beaten Portugal’s Shao Jieni in the penultimate round 11-6, 11-8, 11-8.
Dina, who was beaten in last year’s final by compatriot, Nadeen El-Dawlatly, said: “I wanted to prove that I could win in Lagos. I hope I can take the Women’s Singles title as well but it is going to be a challenge for me especially against Nigerian players like Edem Offiong and Funke Oshonaike; I am hopeful and optimistic that it is achievable.”