by Simon Daish
Toriola was honoured at Rio 2016 for becoming the first Nigerian to compete at seven Olympic Games, and now he wants to make an eighth appearance at an Olympic Games.
“I am still one of the best in my sport despite my age and my consistency in table tennis which sees me playing in two top regular clubs in Europe would remain an added advantage for me as I continue to play in world class competitions,” said Toriola.
“Being 42 years old is one thing-being fit enough to continue playing top table tennis is another.” He continued, “I am very disciplined and I religiously follow the things that will continue to aid my fitness in the game. Come Tokyo 2020, I will still be good to represent Nigeria in top grade international competitions until after the Tokyo Olympics.”
Quadri Aruna also broke a record at the 2016 Games in Rio by becoming the first African Table Tennis player to reach the quarter-finals of an Olympic Games, and Toriola believes that both his and Aruna’s achievements will inspire a younger generation of Nigerians to take up the sport, “My recognition by the IOC at the Rio Olympics was a very good one and recognition of my achievements.” Toriola added, “This serves as a motivation for the youthful table tennis players and a boost for them to work hard and do well in their career. They now know that when they distinguish themselves, they would be recognized by the international sports federations.”
“The achievement of Aruna Quadri at the Rio Olympics is laudable for him to make it to the quarter final of the Men’s singles event as the African to do so in the history of the continent’s participation in the Olympics.” – Segun Toriola (Nigeria).
If Toriola is to play at Tokyo 2020 he will be 46 years old, and the Nigerian player has provided his reasons as to why he hasn’t retired from Table Tennis: “The fear of not having any top rated Nigerian player doing well at the international circuit for a long time was one of the reasons I prolonged my playing career in table tennis. I was scared not having any quality players to hand over to when I retire.”
“But with the emergence of Aruna Quadri, I can now retire peacefully with the rest of mind that, there is somebody worth the salt who can continue from where I stop, but this won’t happen until after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I am still very active and even the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation have asked me to continue,” added Toriola.
Rio 2016 saw Segun Toriola exit to Koki Niwa (Japan) in the second round of the Men’s Singles event, while Nigeria lost out to China in the opening round of the Men’s Team event. However, Toriola has revealed that his services are in high demand, “Some countries approached me in Rio to take up the full-time job as national team coach, but I turned all the requests down as I am not ready to quit.”