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Table Tennis: 55th Molade Okoya-Thomas Cup starts on Monday

organizer’s oldest sports tournament, Molade Okoya-Thomas Table Tennis Cup, marks its 55th edition this year, as players from across Lagos battle for trophies and prize money at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.

The three-day tournament, which has produced some of the country’s finest table tennis stars, including the legendary Atanda Musa, was started in 1968 by the late business mogul Molade Okoya-Thomas to mark his installation as the then Asoju Oba of Lagos.

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This year’s edition will be held from December 18 to 20, with players competing in the senior and junior divisions, just as the Lagos State Table Tennis Association (LSTTA) has promised to use the tournament to select its team for the 2024 National Sports Festival.

Speaking on the 55th edition, son of the originator, Deji Okoya-Thomas, said this year marks another milestone celebration of the competition, which has continued to churn out players for the country.

“We want to continue to uphold the legacy of our late father by ensuring that we mark every milestone edition with unique activities, and for this year, we hope to make it distinct by ensuring that we reward the players and participants with good prizes.

“We are aware of the economic challenges across the country, but in our usual style, we will stage the tournament in a low-key way, hoping that it will fulfil the ideal of the competition’s founder.

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“With the large turnout of players for a recent tournament in Lagos, we believe that more young players will again come through this tournament just like the likes of Olufunke Oshonaike, Bose Kaffo, and a host of others have come through to become stars in Africa and the world. But we are also emphasising education because we want to follow the ideals of our father, who most times preached marrying education with sports during his lifetime being a former athlete himself. We hope the best players emerge again this year as we look forward to an exciting tournament.”

LSTTA Chairman Tunji Lawal said the family of the late Okoya-Thomas should be commended for keeping the faith by consistently staging the tournament even after the demise of the initiator.
“We have realised that our players are motivated to perform at their best in major tournaments, and we are hoping that new players will come through this year as usual,” Lawal said.

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