Abayomi Animasahun has made Nigeria proud in Shanghai, China after finishing second in the boys’ singles of the 2015 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Hopes Challenge.
The 12-year-old could not avenge the preliminary round loss to Nikhil Kumar of USA who again beat 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 in the final.
Animasahun made nonsense of some of the highly-rated players from the Netherlands and Thailand to settle for second place behind Kumar in the group stage.
In the quarterfinal, 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.
The Nigerian lost in the final, but his performance 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,” he said.
“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.”
Animasahun won his first international competition at the Egypt Junior Open in June in the U-12 boys’ singles. He also finished among the top eight at the China Junior Open last week and was the toast of ITTF officials who described the Ekiti state-born player as “Africa’s prospect in the sport”.
In the girls’ singles, Egypt’s Sara Elhakem emerged as the winner after beating Germany’s Sophie Kee in the final.