Olympic qualification starts!

Anuoluwapo Juwon Opeyori starts his Olympic quest at the Slovenia international.

7/6/20233 min read

It is that time once again!!!!

The Olympic qualification period is here! All the elite badminton players in the world will compete over the next 12 months for a place on the biggest stage of our sport, the Olympic Games. To represent our countries in front of the globe, to push ourselves to new heights, and realise the dreams we have had since we were kids.

So how do I qualify for the Olympic Games to represent Nigeria?

The qualification is taken from the BWF world ranking. So in short I need to win matches at BWF events, increase my ranking, and hold one of the qualification places on the 30th of April 2024. There are 35 qualifying places available.

Now for the slightly complicated part. Each nation can only enter one player unless they have two players in the top 16 at the end of qualifying. Then both players will qualify. Added to this is the stipulation that each continental federation has two places, so even if a continent does not have players high in the rankings, they will still have two representatives as long as they are in the top 250.

So I will need to either be ranked in the top 50 to get an automatic spot or be ranked 1st or 2nd in Africa and in the top 250. For perspective, at the last Olympics, the player who qualified in 35th place was ranked 85th in the world with 19888 ranking points.

Points already on the board!

I have already gained my first ranking points when I competed in the Slovenia International in May. It was a complicated and stressful situation. I was all ready to go, everything was organized. I was scheduled on a flight from Lagos to Slovenia when I was told, at the airport, I had to change my flights to enter Europe through Sweden due to my Visa. So extra flights had to be purchased!

The extra flight added much more time to my traveling and meant I didn't get to Slovenia until the day before the tournament. Unfortunately, I was in qualifying which meant I had to play more matches earlier in the week which made things more difficult. However, I was positive.

I was able to practice in the hall once before my match which was a good practice that I was happy with. I was feeling tired and fatigued from the lack of sleep and travelling but I still had some energy. I had a bye in the first round of qualifying which saw me face off with Xiaodong Sheng of Canada in the second qualifying round, a strong and very respectable player on the tour. It was a tough battle! I started off well, I felt comfortable and was able to control the game taking the first set 21-17. What followed was disappointing, Xiaodong was able to step up his game and take me out of my comfort zone. We fought all the way to the end of the game with Xiaodong taking the game 21-19. Into a third set... I was starting to feel the strain on my body at this point, my legs were feeling heavy and I was struggling to assert myself on the court. Again we fought for every point with both of us wanting to start the Olympic qualifying with a strong result. Down to the last point again he took it 21-19.

This was really disheartening and a big blow especially for the money, time, and energy spent on the tournament. It's something you have to accept as an athlete, especially in this sport, that you can make the effort but you still need to beat the person across from you and you might get a tough draw, you could have a complication, you could get ill, your body could breakdown, you still need to move forward and believe you can win every match.

This result fell short of my expectation however there was a silver lining. Xiaodong qualified for the main draw and won his first-round match in a very competitive draw, with our match being the closest in all of his wins. This does show me that I was competitive, that on another day maybe it would be me going through instead of him and I did have the level to go through qualifying and win matches in the main draw. I just need to compete in more events to be able to show what I have.

So not the result we wanted but we are on the scoreboard and can move forward.

If you would like to support my quest for Olympic glory and make history while I represent Nigeria and Africa across the world there are a number of ways you can help me to achieve these goals.

Find out more here:

You can also follow me on social media:

Thank you for your support! You will hear from me again soon.