Lagos – Isau Ogunkunle may not be a familiar name in Africa but the Nigerian has made name for himself at the 2019 Africa PTT Championships in Alexandria, Egypt, when he caused the biggest upset at the tournament after beating an Egyptian 3-2.
Ogunkunle who is competing in Class Four as one of Nigeria’s representatives was set up against his idol – Egypt’s Mohamed Sameh Eid and he knew that for him to prove a point in Africa, he must surmount the world number 11 and Africa’s number one.
As Nigeria’s national champion, Ogunkunle did the impossible in front of the Egyptian fans when he humbled the home hero in the first round of the Class Four singles event.
From the start of the encounter the unseeded Nigerian was full of confidence against the tournament’s number one seed by winning the first game at 11-8.
But Eid had to rely on experience with a lot of topspin from the backhand to win the next two games at 8-11, 6-11.
Having discovered the weakness of his opponent after losing the second and third games, Ogunkunle decided to play more to the Egyptian forehand and this worked for him as he won the fourth game by 11-2. The final and deciding game went the way of the Nigerian who led from the start to the end to win at 11-7. The excited Nigerian did not hide his joy after the big win when he said, he would be unstoppable having surmounted his biggest challenge in the competition with the victory.
“In 2011 when I first played against Eid, he defeated me 3-0 but after the match he came to me to comfort and encourage me not to give up. Since then we have been friends and we communicate with each other regularly. He became my idol in the game,” Ogunkunle said.
However, the romance for table tennis for Ogunkunle did not come by leisure but by sheer determination to make it big in life. “I was in school in 2005 when I lost my father and it was difficult for me to continue schooling so I dropped out. I decided to embrace shoe-making as a vocation. But it was in 2010 that somebody who came to patronize me invited me to table tennis hall and that was how I started playing table tennis,” the Nigerian said.