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Ekiring Hoping to Lift African Fortunes at Olympics

Uganda's Edwin Ekiring is ready to fly the African flag at the Olympic Games in Beijing in August.

The 24-year-old is the highest-ranked African player to compete in the Beijing Games and was given a slot in the men's singles tournament thanks to a special request by Olympic Solidarity Road to Beijing to the Badminton World Federation.

Ekiring, the first Ugandan to represent his country in the Olympic badminton tournament, is confident of making the most of his invite and putting on a good performance in Beijing, having been training in the Netherlands in the run-up to the Games.

"The Olympics are very big and I have to go in a big way," Ekiring was quoted as saying in Xinhua. "I will always thank the Uganda Olympic Committee for granting me the chance to come to the training camp because it has enabled me to qualify for the Beijing Olympics."

Ekiring has been the leading African player over the past four years, although he only managed a bronze medal at the All Africa Games in Algeria last year.

However, he has grown in stature since taking up training outside Africa, including stints in Germany, as well as in his current centre in Holland.

His training partner in the Germany was Zambian Elly Mambwe, who also received an invitation to play in Beijing.

Ekiring knows it will be tough in the men's singles competition at the Olympics against top players from Asia and Europe. But he is not ruling out a chance of a medal.

"Although all the top 100 best players will take part, the Olympics are different and all players will be on pressure," said the 95-ranked Ekiring. "I have always wanted to play with people like Lin Dan from China. Although I do respect him, I will be more than glad to come face to face with him."

This is a view that is echoed by his coach Simon Mugabi.

"Edwin has worked so hard to make it to the Olympics," said Mugabi, who is hoping to join the player at the Beijing event.












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