by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Now, in the intervening years, a great deal has happened to Quadri Aruna, who at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which commence on Saturday 6th August, will be making his second appearance in the multi-sport gathering.
In August 2012 he was listed at no.206 on the Men’s World Rankings, at the time the highest of his career. Two years later in November 2014, following a quarter-final appearance in the Liebherr Men’s World Cup, he had risen to no.30; the highest ever listing gained by an African player.
The success meant he gained the accolade of being named the Player of the Year at the ITTF Star Awards Evening and has become very much a player to note; not just one of the pack.
Enters in Round Two
Presently, he is listed at no.40 on the Men’s World Rankings which means that in the Men’s Singles event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, he is the no.27 seed. It also means he will enter proceedings in the second round, the round in which he departed in England’s capital city.
“I seriously believe that sometimes it is not about how ready or how prepared you are but sometimes it is about how good you are feeling during the tournament”, said Quadri Aruna when speaking to Olalekan Okusan, the Press Officer for the African Table Tennis Federation.
“Preparation matters a lot but also feeling good during tournament is also important”, continued Quadri Aruna. “I pray and hope I have good feeling in Rio.”
At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, it is a different scenario for Quadri Aruna; he is a player on whom eyes are focused to cause a possible upset.
Leading but Lost
“My first appearance in London was not too encouraging but not too bad as well, I gave my best, but I lost a match that I was supposed to have won easily because I was almost about to qualify to round of 32”, reflected Quadri Aruna. “I was two-nil up against Turkey’s Bora Vang and lost.”
Quadri Aruna was beaten by Bora Vang in six games (6-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-2, 12-10, 12-10).
“My defeat, I think this was due to my inexperience then; I strongly believe that better days are ahead of me in Rio”, stressed Quadri Aruna. “Like I said earlier, I hope and pray to have a better feeling during Rio Games.”
It depends on the day, it depends on who reacts well; London evidence suggests Quadri Aruna has the big occasion appetite.
“My expectations are high as I believe that the system of play in Rio can help to spring surprises and upsets”, he added “Nothing is impossible with hard work but with God and self-belief, it is very possible to move more steps higher in Rio than what I achieved in London.”
A direct entry to round two, one round later the challenge begins in earnest; in the third round the top 16 names enter the competition.
“I am seriously praying for a favourable draw, a good draw can also make things work the way I want”, added Quadri Aruna. “I must also admit that nobody in Rio is going to be a walk-over but a favourable draw is very important.”
Positive and results gained since London give the man from Oyo ever reason to be positive.
“Everyone wants to win a medal in Rio, I am also not going to Brazil just to add to number of participants”, stressed Quadri Aruna. “My objective of going is to win a medal just like every other participant.”
Men’s Team Event
Furthermore, for Quadri Aruna the situation is somewhat different to London; in Rio de Janeiro, he also competes in the Men’s Team event. He joins forces with Bode Abiodun and Segun Toriola.
“I think our team is not bad and it is very possible for our team to perform beyond expectations”, said Quadri Aruna. “Nothing is impossible and just like in the singles, I am hoping for a good draw in the team event.”
Highest of All
There is no question; Quadri Aruna is ready and ready to savour the big time atmosphere.
“The Olympic Games is the highest of all and playing at the Olympic Games is one of my dreams”, he concluded. “It is always a happy moment whenever I qualify for an Olympic Games.”
Happy moment and should Quadri Aruna repeat the success of the Liebherr 2014 Men’s World up and progress to the quarter-finals, he will have more than one reason to rejoice.
The quarter-finals of the Men’s Singles event will be played on Tuesday 9th August; it is the day of his 28th birthday.