In Nigeria, the profile of Abayomi Animasahun and Muibat Bello has continued to soar and this has also made them benefit from various initiatives put together by the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF).

Now the teenagers have been named as Nigeria’s representatives at the ITTF Hopes Week holding in Shanghai, China later this month.

Also two of Nigeria’s greatest players, Segun Toriola and Funke Oshonaike will accompany the players to the training exercise.

An elated Animasahun who is taking part in the ITTF WJC in Egypt cannot hide his excitement about the trip said, “I am glad that I will be heading to China for the Hopes Week meet too. I am happy at this opportunity given to me by NTTF to meet the best young players like me from around the world”.

“I have overcome my fears of challenging the white skinned players. I used to think that I could not play against them. The Egypt Junior and Cadet Open has helped me to improve my confidence level and this will boast my chances in China,’’ he added.   In the mini-cadet event that Animasahun is campaigning in Egypt, he said: “I am targeting a gold medal in the singles, irrespective of players i am going to play against in the competition.”

Not knowing what lies ahead of them in China and like Animasahun, Muibat Bello is targeting the title in the competition aspect of the Hopes Week. I am eyeing a gold medal in the girls’ singles and i will ensure I do my best. I know it will be a tough one because of what I have heard and read about the Chinese players. I am going to watch out for them,” she said.

On the choice of Animasahun and Bello, NTTF President, Wahid Oshodi said: “They have been maintaining superb performances at national level and we will continue to assist them to improve their skills. And of course they need to attend more tournaments of this nature as we need to expose our young players promptly to the rigours of world-class tournaments’ style of play,” he added.

The ITTF Hopes Week holds in Shanghai, China from June 23 to July 5.