by Simon Daish
Nigerian player Quadri Aruna beat Chuang Chih-Yuan (Chinese Taipei) and Timo Boll (Germany) on his way to the last eight of the Men’s Singles tournament at Rio 2016, before making an exit to the eventual champion Ma Long (China).
The Chief Coach of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation Nosiru Bello, praised Aruna’s Olympic campaign and believes that the world number 27 deserves great credit for his achievement:
“He is a very talented player and very focused in his career that is why he plays professional tennis for two European clubs in France and Portugal. He keep improving his game day in and out, said Bello. “The record he set at the Rio Olympics could not be set by any of Nigeria’s former great players like Atanda Musa, Kasali Lasisi, Francis Williams, Sunday Eboh, Yomi Bankole and not even Segun Toriola who had played in seven Olympic Games.”
“Quadri should be given kudos for setting this record. He is also the number one player in the men’s category in the Commonwealth Games. A lot of people love him and he is a young energetic player who always keeps his head low.” – Nosiru Bello (Chief Coach of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation).
Bello believes the improvement of Aruna’s game over the past few years has come down to external funding, and he has called for more action from the Nigerian Table Tennis Federation to help the country’s future generations to reach similar heights to Aruna, “What Aruna did at the Rio Olympics 2016 was a result of massive sponsorship from some great multinational companies who had foresight. For this new project, there is the need for one top company in Nigeria to pick up the bills and I am sure they will not regret putting their money in Nigerian table tennis.”
Table Tennis is a very popular sport in Nigeria, and Bello stated that he sees a great opportunity for the country’s next Table Tennis stars to enjoy even more success than Quadri Aruna and seven-time Olympian Segun Toriola have produced, “With hardwork, I belief (sic) strongly that we won’t have any problem raising players who will even be greater than Toriola and Aruna the two current top African table tennis players. We have a lot of talented youngsters who are coming up, it is a matter of time and with good sponsorship we shall get there.”
“At a point of Nigeria’s history, table tennis was the second most popular sport in Nigeria after football as we had tables for the sport in all corners of the country, in all the local government areas across the country.” Bello continued, “With good financial support Nigerian table tennis players can rise to be greater than Chinese players who have been dominating the game at the world level for a long time now.”