Gavin Rumgay travelled out on August 7th to compete in the Nigerian Challenge Open in Lagos. Not many on the world stage would consider going to Nigeria due to the distance, but Gavin has never been someone that backs away from a challenge.

The entry named many top players, Quadri Aruna, Omar Assar, Antoine Hachard, Olah Benedek, Marton Szita to name only a few. Of course it would be a challenging feat for the Scottish man, playing in difficult conditions and in a crowd he has never experienced before, but as we have seen from Gavin time and time again, he of course rose to the challenge.

Gavin’s first match in the last 64 was against a home favourite, S. Akomolafe. With the crowd fully backing the Nigerian local it caused Gavin unrest in the first couple of opening points. However coming to terms with the crowds energy, Gavin soon sent in some bigger serves and some bigger cho’s to come out of the match as the 4-0 winner. In true Rumgay fashion he managed to gain the crowds support through his entertaining and infectious enthusiasm. This would prove crucial in the next couple of matches.

The last 32 match was always going to be slightly tougher than the previous match. The Russion A.Bukin was a strong two winged player, who had made the doubles final in Lagos back in 2016. Thus meaning he was more equipped with the conditions than Rumgay. However, with the crowd fully behind the Scotsman, Rumgay continuously unsettled his opponent and came out with another 4-0 victory. In true Rumgay style, the shorts were lifted and the crowd were treated to the #DoTheRumgay with applause rippling throughout the stadium.

Next up was top Egyptian player, Omar Assar, ranked no. 39 in the world and seeded no.2 in this competition. This match proved to be very competitive as both players sought to gain the initiative. Assar took the first game, 11-7, but Gavin quickly levelled, taking the second 11-8. The next game was pivotal in terms of the whole match and could have gone either way. In the end Assar won it 13-11. Assar also took the next game and so led the match 3-1. Typical of Gavin’s never-say-die mentality he won the fifth game 11-7 to bring the deficit back to just one game. Gavin needed to win the next game to stay in with a chance of progressing to the last eight. It was tight all the way but Assar just managed to pull away to win it, 11-7.

With top seed Quadri Aruna also being knocked out in the last sixteen, Assar continued his good form to go onto win the overall competition. So, Gavin was left to reflect on what could have been as he had his chances to beat Assar.

Gavin said afterwards; “Playing in Nigeria was a great experience with a fantastic atmosphere in the packed arena; although learning to play in such high humidity was tough. Assar is a very good player and recently signed up to play in the German League with Werder Bremen. I had my chances to beat him so I’m feeling very positive about my game at the moment.”

It’s a quick turnaround for Gavin as he now heads to Bulgaria for the next round of the ITTF Tour. As he did in Australia, as well as the singles, Gavin will also be playing in the doubles competition with England’s No.1, Paul Drinkhall. We wish them luck and look forward to updates from Gavin on his Facebook page.