It was never really in doubt that Africa’s top-ranked player would steamroller to the gold medal at the 2018 National Sports Festival after scoring impressive tournament victories in Zambia and South Africa in the lead up to the Festival.
Dorcas Adesokan’s 21-8 21-16 final victory over Deborah Ukeh in the Badminton singles event at the 2018 NSF was expected but for Africa’s top-ranked player who also won gold in this event at the 2012 Festival in Lagos, every victory is one to savour.
“Winning gold made me very happy, I won gold at the last one (Eko, 2012) and now that I have retained my position I’m very glad and also for Ogun State I’m so happy to add a gold to the medals,” she says to busybuddiesng.com.
Adesokan is certainly on a gold rush, her victory at the 19th NSF comes on the back of victories in the Zambia International where she beat home favourite Omar Siamupangila in the singles final and at the South Africa International Badminton Championship where she defeated Jordanian Domou Amro in straight sets to win the tournament.
She now has her sights set on the First Rivers Governor’s National Badminton Championship which serves off on Wednesday, December 19 2018, in PortHarcourt and true to form; it is victory or nothing for Adesokan.
“I hope for better in Port Harcourt because I have to continue winning and I have to be the champion. I’m going for gold especially in singles,” she says.
Adesokan’s focus and ambition
These remarkable achievements were definitely not something Adesokan – who says she started playing badminton “for pleasure” – envisaged when a teacher randomly selected her for the badminton team in primary school.
“I started playing badminton when I was in primary school,” she says, “the coach just selected us; ten boys [and] ten girls but I’m glad I could make it. I started playing badminton for pleasure but now it has turned to a very big thing in my life because after my normal life its badminton.”
“I don’t know where I’m going to be now if I’m not playing badminton,” she continues, “I have gone places and met people and I’ve also been able to work with the Ogun State Sports Council through badminton. It has really impacted good things in my life.”
One figure who has played a prominent role in her career so far is the current President of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN) Frank Orbih who Adesokan describes as being “like a father”.
“[Orbih] is so important in my career because he’s like our father, not just a president,” she says.
“We are a family and he relates to us
Adesokan works with the Ogun State Sports Council to raise the profile of badminton in the state by introducing it to school children in private and public schools in order to encourage pupils and students to take up the sport at an early age and hopefully build a lifelong attachment which would in turn translate to a higher following of badminton in Nigeria.
Adesokan says the problem of modest followership of badminton is an Africa-wide problem although she says the present board of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN) has done a lot to create more public awareness about the sport, she also feels players could do a lot more to increase the profile of badminton in Nigeria.
“In Africa when you are playing tournaments you often play in front of crowds of 10 or 15 people watching the match so it’s not just in Nigeria. Badminton in Africa is not well known even when you introduce yourself as a badminton player you have to explain the kind of sport that badminton is,” she says.
“Now I think the [BFN] is engaging the media more to publicise our tournaments. In Ogun State we go to schools, private schools and public schools, to introduce badminton to them.
“And I’m also saying this for the
With 2018 almost at an end, Adesokan can look back with pride and satisfaction on what she has accomplished in this year but everything she has done so far is geared towards accumulating the points she needs to fulfil a burning desire to play at the Olympics.
“Talking of the future, I’m looking forward to the Olympics because that is the biggest tournament ever, I’ve not played there before,” she tells busybuddiesng.com.
“I’m currently the African number one and I don’t want to stay there alone, so I’m looking forward to the Olympics. All these tournaments I am making some points so I can gather them for the Olympics so I’m wishing and looking forward to the Olympics.”