A Paralympics star and contingent in the table tennis event of the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics Games, Isau Ogunkunle has decried lack of equipment and support to aid his preparation for the international tournament.
34-year-old Ogunkunle African champion caused the greatest upset at the 2019 Africa PTT Championships in Alexandria, Egypt when he beat the African champion, Egypt’s Mohamed Sameh Eid.
The Nigeria’s national champion humiliated the home hero in the first round of the Class Four singles event.
The Ogun state-born Ogunkunle who spoke with Uhuru Times in Abeokuta appealed to the government and other well meaning Nigerians to assist to enable him prepare adequately ahead of competition next year.
He said “I am not prepared. You can see the pat I am using to train (showing his peeling bat). You can’t compare this with what other counterparts that will be featuring in the international competition use. I am just on my own. I have not got any sponsor or support from anywhere. I have a coach, who is very technical and is trying his best.
“Had it been I have good facilities and equipments, my form presently would have been fantastic. This bat is not good enough to play. This bat costs N55,000 and I need at least seven pairs of this for training.
“If I have equipment, and facilities, I am good to go. I have a very technical and capable coach. With good equipment, I am very sure that I will deliver at 2021 Olympics,” Ogunkunle said.
He, however, noted that the pandemic which forced postponement of the tournament till next year was a blessing in disguise to him.
Ogunkunle said “If not for COVID-19, I may not have qualified for the tournament. During COVID-19, they stopped all the international competitions and all the ranking remains. That’s why I am making it to the Tokyo 2021. Had it been there was no embargo on the international competitions, I may not have money to attend any competition.”
The Paralympics star urged government and sporting loving to come to his aid to ensure adequately preparations towards the competition.
“In fact, I need government support, I need individual support, I need moral support. If not for those who are encouraging me, I had wanted to give up. But some people closed to me encourage me, telling me that I have a bright future in this career,” he added.