21 Mar 2017

Over a period of seven Olympic Games, Segun Toriola has delighted the crowds, a fact that was recognised with a special award being presented by Thomas Weikert, ITTF President, prior to the start of play on the evening of Friday 12th August at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Likewise, colleague, Quadri Aruna has entertained the spectators in Riocentro Pavilion 3 but in the first round of the Men’s Team event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, there were no presents from their opponents but there was a ray of hope.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

China, the top seeds, offered no charity with Segun Toriola being the first to be put to the sword; he was beaten by Xu Xin (11-1, 11-9, 11-6).

“It was a very special moment to receive the award. Playing against pen-holders it very difficult for me, I think I might have done better against Ma Long! I was really tense in the first game but then I relaxed.” Segun Toriola.

Memories Jan-Ove Waldner

Better against Ma Long, in the next match, Quadri Aruna did better against Ma Long; earlier in the week at the quarter-final stage of the Men’s Singles event, he had been beaten by Ma Long in four straight games (11-4, 11-2, 11-6, 11-7). In the second match in the Men’s Team event, he extracted one game (11-6, 11-3, 5-11, 11-2).

The words of Sweden’s Jan-Ove Waldner now cross my mind; prior to the 2000 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur, the legendary Swede had never beaten Liu Guoliang. In the final against China, he suggested to coach, Ulf Carlsson, that he should play first and if he beat Liu Guoliang it would be a body blow for China.

Jan-Ove Waldner argued that although he had lost many times to Liu Guoliang but he had regularly extracted at least one game, so if he could secure one game, he had the potential to overturn previous decisions. In Kuala Lumpur, now 16 years ago, he beat Liu Guoliang and Sweden secured the Men’s Team title.

Same Argument

Does the same argument apply to Quadri Aruna against Ma Long?

“I won a game against Ma Long, next time I might be able to win two. Also, if you can win the first game you put your opponent under pressure; anything can happen; you must remain possible. I really believe I can do better next time I play him but I know it will be very difficult”, Quadri Aruna

Success for Ma Long, matters concluded with success for Xu Xin and Zhang Jike, the reigning World champions, they beat Bode Abiodun and Segun Toriola to conclude matters (11-5, 11-6, 11-5).

Imposing Start

China had made an imposing start

Rio 2016 Rio Men's News Rio Team News xu xin Segun TORIOLA

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