by Simon Daish
Quadri Aruna was considered to be a major favourite to take the Men’s Singles gold at the 2016 African Championships, heading into the tournament off the back of a record breaking Olympic campaign at Rio 2016.
However, Aruna lost out to Egypt’s Omar Assar in the final in Agadir and Babatunde Obisanya believes that Aruna fell at the final hurdle due to an overwhelming amount of pressure:
“Quadri has been doing very well this year and that loss will be very painful to him, but he lost because there was too much pressure on him,” said Obisanya. “Coming on the heels of his performance at the Olympics and at the World Cup, every player in Morocco wanted to beat him.”
While the defeat for Aruna – who has now lost to Assar on eight occasions in world ranking competitions – will be painful to take, Obisanya is confident that the Nigerian player will bounce back in no time,“The loss doesn’t take anything away from him as a good player. It will only encourage him to come back stronger. He is still the best player in Africa.”
Obisanya also discussed the unexpected title win in the Women’s Singles category achieved by Olufunke Oshonaike, who despite being in her forties was able to see off the previous year’s champion Egypt’s Dina Meshref. Obisanya praises Oshonaike’s accomplishment in Morocco but feels that her influence on the younger generation of female Table Tennis players is the one thing to take away from her achievement:
“For her to win the title at her age shows that she still has enough in her to rule the continent. But when it comes to the world stage, her age may not give her a chance against the younger players. Her victory will motivate the country’s younger female players and spur them on, despite the challenges they face” – Babatunde Obisanya (Former Head Coach for Nigeria).