*Azeez Solanke eyes top shop this year
By Adeyemi Robinson-Adefioye, Lagos
As plans to stage the 49th edition of the annual Asoju Oba Molade Okoya-Thomas Cup are in to gear, there are indications that those clamouring for the tournament to go national will have to wait for more years.
According to Deji Okoya-Thomas, the idea behind the tournament was to engage youths in Lagos State and it was meant to celebrate the coronation of their late father, Molade Okoya-Thomas by the late paramount ruler of Lagos State, late HRH Adeyinka Oyekan.
“For now we cannot say that the competition will go national because the tournament was initially set up for athletes in Lagos State. This has been what we met and for now we will keep organizing it for Lagos State. Our target for now is Lagos and we will continue to raise the profile of the competition hoping that more players will come through it and make the national teams,” he said.
He however disclosed that there are plans to make the 50th edition of the tournament in 2018 memorable.
For 2016 men’s singles runner’s up, Azeez Solanke, nothing can stop him from claiming the title this year. Solanke, a national junior champion narrowly lost to Rilwan Akanbi 4-3 in the final.
“I am fully ready to claim my first senior title this year having lost narrowly last year. I have been training hard and I am confident that this year I will win the title. I must also admit that most of the players are in top form and I hope I can prove myself this year,” Solanke said. Rilwan Akanbi is the defending Singles champion of the Asoju Oba championships.
Being the longest staging tournament in the country, the Asoju Oba Molade Okoya-Thomas Cup has produced some of the top players including Atanda Musa, late Yomi Bankole, Olufunke Oshonaike and Bose Kaffo among others.
When the Asoju Oba tournament served off in 1968, it was former national coach, Babatunde Obisanya that claimed the first title while the most decorated player of the tournament is Dele Olasunmbo aka Malawi having won the title more than five times.