‘Nigeria Open Is Special Compared To Europe’, Says Olah, 2016 Champion

Looks forward to the exciting Lagos atmosphere

Benedek Olah

In his first visit to Nigeria in 2016, Benedek Olah returned to Finland with his first ITTF title after emerging the champion in the men’s singles of the ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open. Impressed with his maiden experience, Benedek Olah decided to make a second return in 2017. However, his journey was short-lived when he failed to measure up with his podium place in 2016.

Nevertheless, Olah has indeed enjoyed every of his visit to the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, Lagos. Hence, the 27-year-old is always willing to return.

Spectators inside the Molade Okoya-Thomas Indoor Sports Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos enjoying the Nigeria Open

“The audience during the matches is something to always look forward to and enjoy. Also the fans are willing to show emotions and make some noise during competitive rally in matches. Nigeria Open is special compared to what obtains in Europe. The lack of backhand by the players is heavily compensated with forehand with a lot of spin coupled with good footwork. Also I see that their backhand services are also different to what we were used to in Europe,” Olah admits.

Top ranked Nigerian player, Aruna Quadri (left) against an opponent at the 2017 edition. CREDIT: ITTF Nigeria Open media

With the qualities of players heading to Nigeria this year, the Finn says: “I am in better form than last year. But this year, the tournament seems harder with better players which I find super cool.

Also the hotel accommodation is very amazing with good food. The audience is always lively, while the venue is always full to capacity from the first day. This is what you don’t see in Europe.”

Olah will have to surmount the hurdle posed by players like reigning Nigeria Open champion, Egyptian, Omar Assar if he wants to reclaim a title he won 2 years ago. CREDIT: ITTF Nigeria Open media

With a firm belief in his ability to reclaim the title, Olah says: “The Nigeria Open is very special to me because it was there I won my first international title. I am always willing to return. The condition is good for me to win and it is not the same like other tournaments. I also meet some new friends and it is always nice to come back and see them.”

“It is always very hard competition but it is a good atmosphere for any player to excel. Meanwhile, I must admit that Europe is nothing compared to Nigeria in terms of the atmosphere at the venue,” he adds.

Olah is hoping to clinch his second Nigerian title come August. Not taking anything for granted, he concludes: “It is never the same every year but anything can happen.”


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