Nigeria’s Eniola Bolaji made history as the first African to qualify for the final and win gold at a major para badminton international championship.
She achieved the feat by beating Ukraine’s Oksana Kozyna 18-21, 21-14, 21-18 at the 2021 Spanish Para Badminton International championship which ended in Cartegena today Sunday 16th May.
Competing in the Female Standing 3 (SL3) category, the Nigerian lost the first game 18-21. However, she won the last two games 21-14, 21-18 to win the historic gold medal.
With the victory, she has also qualified for the World Para badminton Championship coming up in Japan in October.
During the medal presentation ceremony, a minute of applause was held to remember coach/player, Bello Oyebanji who died in a ghastly accident while trying to secure his visa for the tournament. The late Oyebanji discovered, trained and mentored the new Spanish international champion before he met his untimely death.
According to the President of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria, Frank Orbih, Bolaji’s victory is just a test of the great prospect of para badminton in Nigeria if given total support and attention.
Orbih said: ” History was made today (on Sunday) in African and Nigerian para badminton with this record breaking and setting performance by Eniola Bolaji. She has become the first Nigerian and African to get to the finals and go on to win a gold medal in any para badminton event in any international championship.
“It is a huge consolation for the badminton family that Coach Bello Oyebanji did not die in vain. It is a very emotional one for us. It shows that with consistence and resilience the results will always come.
“She played in an international tournaments for the first time with a great and amazing performance of winning gold in the single SL3 event and qualifying for the World para Badminton championship in Japan come October,” Orbih added.