Playing against a higher ranked Dimitrij PROKOPCOV (CZE) in the first round of the Men’s Singles event, the 120 ranked African legend pulled off an impressive performance, beating PROKOPCOV 4-2 (8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8) to end the Czech’s Olympic dream in Rio.
41 year old TORIOLA, whose seventh Olympic Games appearance equals the table tennis record and makes him the most capped African Olympian stated: “I’ve played him in the French League three times and I’ve lost every time. Today I felt confident before the match, I played without any fear. My first attack was strong and he made mistakes, the main problem for me was that I made mistakes when playing short.”
Australia’s Jian Fang LAY, who is competing in her fifth Olympic Games showed the world, that even at 43 she is still a force to be reckoned with. World number 128 LAY, who is now Australia’s oldest ever Olympic athlete defeated higher ranked opponents Maria DOLGIKH (RUS) and Sofia POLCANOVA (POL) to cruise into the third round where she will be the sole Oceanian representative standing in the run for Women’s Singles Gold.
Success for the experienced veteran, first time Olympians also had a taste of sweet Olympic victory on the opening day of Rio 2016.
First Finnish athlete to ever qualify for the Olympic table tennis event, Benedek OLAH was determined to make his first Olympic expedition worthwhile. The 25-year-old knocked out Singapore’s CHEN Feng 4-1 (11-4, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6) to set up a match against world number 29 Jonathan GROTH (DEN) in the second round.
Similarly, Puerto Rico’s first table tennis Olympian Adriana DIAZ fended off the challenge of Nigeria’s opening ceremony flag bearer Olufunke OSHONAIKE. With the support of the Puerto Rican supporters in the crowd, the 15-year-old came back three straight games from 1-2 to win 11-7, 7-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-2.
“I tried to stay calm and started to attack with my forehand because she uses pimples on her backhand and I am not good against that style”, shared DIAZ.
“I feel like I’m in my country, because there are many people shouting and supporting. That encourages me to shout and celebrate with them. I am very happy that they are here.”
The Olympic table tennis event continues tomorrow with the second and third rounds of the Men’s and Women’s Singles events taking place.