by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Year by year, Quadri Aruna is becoming a part of African sporting folklore; in 2016 whatever else he achieved, whatever contests in which competed, nothing will compare with his efforts in Rio de Janeiro when in the early days of the tournament, he stole the show.
Entering proceedings in the second round, the win over the Slovak Republic defender, Wang Yang was a creditable performance; for an opening match in any tournament he was a most dangerous opponent.
One win under his belt, it was from that moment he played at a new level, he was supercharged by circumstance; he revelled in the theatre like a Roman gladiator. He beat Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan and Germany’s Timo Boll, prior to experiencing a quarter-final defeat at the hands of the champion elect, Ma Long.
Quite simply Quadri Aruna thrived on the occasion, he thrived on being on the big stage; he thrived on the fact that in Riocentro Pavilion 3 there was a special opportunity to achieve.
He does not harbour medals, he relishes the fact that he can test himself against the best; he cherishes the fact that he can prove himself.
Later, in the first round of the Men’s Team event, despite Nigeria losing three-nil to China, the fact he extracted one game from Ma Long filled him with a sense of achievement; for Quadri Aruna that was a precious medal. He had endorsed the fact that he could compete on level terms with the very best in the world.
It was the very same earlier in the year in Khartoum at the 2016 ITTF-Africa Top 16 tournament; in the latter stages he beat Congo Brazzaville’s Suraju Saka before accounting for the Egyptian duo of El-Sayed Lashin and Omar Assar to claim the top prize.
Just as later at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, he proved himself and when at the Liebherr 2016 Men’s World Cup, matters went did not go according to hopes; the response was one of appraisal and return stronger to prove that the defeats were a blip on sailing to higher horizons.
Higher horizons and that is what Quadri Aruna has achieved; in September he secured the no.25 spot on the Men’s World Ranking, the highest ever for his continent, on the October and November lists he has maintained that status.
Outstanding performances; for the new generation of African players he is their overwhelming favourite, he has their vote.
He is exciting to watch and above all his behaviour, his good manners are exemplary; need a role model, look no further, select Quadri Aruna.