The death of one of Nigeria’s foremost table tennis players, Yomi Bankole was today confirmed by Segun Oguntade, secretary of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation.
Oguntade told Premium Times sports that the Federation got the sad news yesterday. According to Oguntade, Bankole, 52, passed on after a brief illnness.
Bankole, whose full names are Oluwayomi Bankole Wiekliffe, came to limelight in the 1980’s, the days many still regard as the “golden era” of Nigeria table tennis.
It was the days when the likes of Fatai Adeyemo, Francis Sule, Thomas Ogunrinde, and Sunday Eboh were forces to reckon with not just nationally but also in international circles.
A true legend
Bankole, a two-time African champion, in an interview last year revealed that he actually abandoned school to play tennis.
This decision paid off as he went ahead to represent Nigeria in two Olympics, Seoul ‘88 and Barcelona ‘92, as well as a number of World Championships in Germany, India, Japan and Sweden, amongst others.
The fierce rivalry that existed between him and Atanda Musa, who currently resides in the United States of America, was one of the talking points in sports in the late 80’s and 90’s.
They both made the game interesting on the domestic front and generated a lot of followership.
At the Table Tennis hall of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, a place where Yomi Bankole made a lot of mark, the mood was very sober as everybody had nice words to say about the departed legend.