Nine years after getting banned by the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation for dual registration at the 18th Edition of the National Sports Festival tagged Eko 2012, Fatima Bello representing Delta State has won the Women’s Singles title at the 20th National Sports Festival defeating Esther Oribamise of Rivers State.
According to the then Secretary of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation, Segun Oguntade, Bello was found guilty of double registration with Team Delta and Lagos States.
In his statement, he said, “Fatima is formally registered with Lagos State in the books of the NTTF, only for Delta to lay claim to her as their athlete and they were unable to prove it.
“And we had an emergency meeting where it was decided to suspend her from all table tennis events for three years, with immediate effect,” he told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.
Prior to her suspension, Fatima has been tipped to win the Women’s singles title but during the Women’s team event between Delta and Lagos, which was won by the latter, the Delta team lay claim to her and the result was awarded to the loser.
In another publication, Segun Oguntade said Bello was licensed with Lagos State but took an appointment with Delta since April 2010 till September 2012.
A year after serving her suspension, Fatimo Bello got to the final of the NTTF National Open Table Tennis Championship back-to-back losing both final to Cecilia Otu -Akpan.
In 2018 at the National Sport festival in Abuja, Fatimo narrowly lost 4-3 to Funke Oshonaike in the round of 16.
In 2019, the former River state player, in less than a week, defeated Cecilia Akpan 4-2 at the final of the 2019 Africa games trials, three days after, the pair met at the semi-final of maiden edition of the National Women’s Singles Open Championship, with the river state player demoralising her arch –rival 4-2.
Fatimo Bello is one of the most dominant female table tennis players in the country, this explains why she was selected for the 2019 Africa games in Rabat, pairing with Funke Oshinaike to win the Silver medal in the women’s doubles in an all Nigeria final, losing the Gold to the pair of Edem Offing and Cecilia Otu-Akpan.
Fatimo as she is fondly called lived up the pre-tournament billing as the favourite to clinch the gold medal in Edo.