African champion Ola Fagbemi could not hide his joy of playing opposite world number one Lee Chong Wei and shared the emotion during the media interaction. What he did not say was that six hours before the match he was unsure of reaching the Gachibowli stadium.
In fact, it was for this reason that the organizers had removed the match from the TV court.
Fagbemi and the Nigerian squad had left for Lagos airport on Sunday night to board the flight to India but the first flight was delayed by 24 hours and then they were stranded at Dubai for another 12 hours. The squad reached Hyderabad at 3 am on Wednesday morning.
While the other players, competing only in doubles, were scheduled to play on Wednesday, Fagbemi would have been ruled out of competition had England not pulled out on the eve of the tournament.
The 24-year-old was drawn against England's Rajiv Ouseph in the opening round and was eligible to compete against Lee after the walkover.
"I would not have played today had the English team not withdrawn. But I was lucky, though I could not do much against the Malaysian," said Fagbemi, who went down 21-11, 21-14.
Though Fagbemi and the coaching staff were not willing to speak on why the team left for India so late, sources said it was a way to save on hotel bills.