Kayode Alabi and Ifechukwude Ikpeoyi are not just husband and wife, they are also history makers in the sport of para-table tennis. The Nigerian couple became the first African couple to qualify for the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024, after winning gold medals in their respective categories at the ITTF African Para Championships in Giza, Egypt .
Their remarkable achievement is even more impressive considering the challenges they faced in their journey to the top of their sport. Both Alabi and Ikpeoyi were born with physical disabilities that affected their mobility and balance. They faced stigma, discrimination and lack of opportunities growing up in a society that often marginalizes people with disabilities.
But they did not let their circumstances define them. They found solace and passion in table tennis, a sport that they started playing at a young age. They met each other at a local club in Lagos, where they trained and competed together. They fell in love and got married in 2019, becoming partners in life and in sport.
They also became part of the Nigerian para-table tennis team, where they received coaching, support and exposure to international competitions. They represented their country at several events, such as the African Games, the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships. They also participated in various qualification tournaments for the Paralympic Games, but they always fell short of securing a ticket.
That changed in September 2023, when they finally achieved their dream of qualifying for the Paralympics. Alabi defeated his compatriot Isa Olamilekan 3-1 in the final to win the men’s single class six category, while Ikpeoyi beat Obiora Chineye by the same scoreline to clinch the title in the women’s single class five category.
They were among the nine Nigerian para-table tennis players who qualified for Paris 2024, making Nigeria the most successful country at the ITTF African Para Championships. Nigeria also dominated the men’s singles category, claiming four of the six tickets available.
Alabi and Ikpeoyi are not only proud of their personal achievements, but also of their contribution to the development and recognition of para-sports in Nigeria and Africa. They hope that their story will inspire other people with disabilities to pursue their dreams and talents, and to challenge the stereotypes and barriers that limit them.
They also hope that their story will raise awareness and support for para-sports in Nigeria and Africa, where many athletes still face challenges such as lack of funding, equipment, facilities and exposure. They believe that para-sports can be a powerful tool for social inclusion, empowerment and transformation for people with disabilities.
Alabi and Ikpeoyi are looking forward to competing at the Paralympic Games in Paris, where they will face some of the best para-table tennis players in the world. They are confident that they can perform well and make their country proud. They are also excited to share this experience with each other, as they will be the first African couple to compete at the Paralympics.
They are truly a remarkable couple who have overcome many obstacles to achieve their goals. They deserve to be celebrated for their courage, determination and excellence. They are not just para-table tennis players, they are history makers.
Did you hear about the former Nigerian U17 goalkeeper, Daniel Jinadu, who graduated with a First Class degree in Psychology from the University of East London.
Daniel Jinadu is not your average footballer. Jinadu was born in Nigeria on June 21, 2002, but moved to England at a young age. He started his football career with Chelsea, where he spent seven years before joining West Ham United in 2018. He made five appearances for the Hammers’ U18 team.
Jinadu represented his countries of origin and residence at international level. He played for England U15 and U16 teams, but switched his allegiance to Nigeria in 2019. He was part of the Golden Eaglets squad that reached the round of 16 at the FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil, where he started three games. Read more about Daniel’s football and educational exploits here.
We at Rising Africa firmly believe that Africans have the capacity to build a successful future for their continent. Join us as we recognise African achievement and create a better future for the continent.