Exclusive by Izuchukwu Okosi
Nigeria table tennis sensation Segun Toriola has exclusively told Newslegend.com.ng from the Games village in Rio
that the future of Nigerian tennis is secure despite the exit of Team Nigeria from the Games.
Nigeria’s men team were defeated 3-0 by China six days ago but the tennis star reflected on the performance of the
team and what the future holds for Nigeria in the sport when Newslegend.com.ng spoke to him.
‘We tried to make Nigeria proud at the Games but it didn’t quite work out. The future of the game is bright in
Nigeria and we the senior ones are keen to help the junior boys and girls who have showed great promise.
“We lost to China, the Olympic champions, but we were ready for the challenges. They were just better on that day. I
didn’t need to check out their players on youtube or search for their tapes. I know their players and their style of
play. Preparation for the 2020 Games must start now,’ Toriola said.
Nigeria’s men team comprised of Toriola, Aruna Quadri and Bode Abiodun while China were paraded Ma Long, Xu Xin and
Meanwhile Toriola was thankful to the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) for honouring him at the Games.
The tennis star who made his bow at the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992 and went on to represent Nigeria at the
Atlanta 96, Sidney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games became the first African tennis player to
represent his country at the Olympics.
“It is a thing of joy that I was able to represent Nigeria in these Olympics. It wouldn’t have been possible without
hard work and the support and love of Nigerians. I hope we have more Segun Toriolas and Aruna Quadris,” he added.
In a related development, President of African Table Tennis Federation, Khaled El-Salhy, has described Nigeria’s
table tennis star to Rio2016 Olympics, Aruna Quadri, as a pride to Africa.
Quadri got to the quarter-finals in Rio before losing to world number one Ma Long from China.
In a release by ITTF- Africa, El-Salhy stated that the heroic performance of Aruna Quadri is a confirmation of
Africa’s relevance in global table tennis.
“I must admit that all the African players did their best in the singles, while the extra ordinary outcome was
through Aruna Quadri for his superb performance against the top ITTF ranked players like Chinese Taipei’s CHUANG
Chih-Yuan and Germany’s Timo BOLL,” El-Salhy said.
“In my opinion the achievement of Aruna Quadri in Rio will be of great impact to Africa and all players as well as
help to break all barriers, raising the ceiling of ambitious player at all World and Olympic title events regardless
of their opponents.
“Simply, Aruna Quadri is perfect, full of energy and trust his skills with good preparation. He also put his mind in
the game to fly the flag of Nigeria and Africa in such Olympic Games.”
El-Salhy had words of advice for young tennis players who wish to become the next generation of tennis heroes.
He said: “They have to follow the foot step of Aruna Quadri in terms of preparation, dedication in training and with
this nothing is impossible.”