09 Jan 2017

Success at the ITTF-Africa Top 16 tournament in Khartoum in February followed by a quarter-final finish in the Men’s Singles event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games were the high points for Quadri Aruna in 2016.

One of the effects is that the 28 year old Nigerian starts the New Year at no.25 on the Men’s World Rankings, it a position he achieved in September following his exploits in Rio de Janeiro and has maintained ever since that date.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor (Interviews by Olalekan Okusan)

Furthermore, it is the highest listing ever listing of his career and the highest ever by an African player.

Setting new standards for the continent is increasingly becoming the norm for Quadri Aruna, his performance in August was the best ever by an African player in the table tennis events at an Olympic Games.

“I was very happy to qualify for the quarter-finals at the Olympic Games and not just because I happened to be the first player from Africa to have played in quarter-final of an Olympic Games; this is my best ever result so far, I strongly believe that better days are ahead”, Quadri Aruna.

Two notable performances but just as with any athlete in any sport, there were the disappointments. At the Liebherr Men’s World Cup staged in Saarbrücken in early October, he was beaten by both Singapore’s Gao Ning and Sweden’s Pär Gerell, thus finishing in third place in his group and no progress to the main draw.

Meanwhile, later in the month, he experienced defeat in the final of the Men’s Singles event at the 2016 ITTF-Africa Senior Championships by Omar Assar.

“The year 2016 was great and good, there were ups and downs but I give thanks to God for his mercies over my career. I think I was around average in performance during the year 2016 and I pray and hope that 2017 will be so much better by God’s grace”, Quadri Aruna

Undoubtedly, the fact the most recent five editions of the World Rankings have seen him maintain the same positions, reflects a high level of consistency; the players against whom he experienced defeat in that period of time are all high level athletes.

However, the higher the listing, the more difficult to progress to the next step but Quadri Aruna is positive.

“My target of doing better than the previous year remains the same every year because I always want to have better results Africa, club and globally. My target is always to achieve what I never achieved in my career and I believe it’s very possible with God on my side and more hard work”, Quadri Aruna

Currently Quadri Aruna represents Jura Morez in Pro A of the French League, he lines up alongside Canada’s Wang Zhen and Spain’s Carlos Machado and Portugal’s André Silva. He is very much the club’s leading player; at the halfway stage of the season with the club in third place, he has won nine of the 12 matches in which he has been involved.

“Concerning where I will play next season, I will keep this close to my heart until the time comes. One of the strongest leagues in Europe is still France and I think I am really improving in France more than Portugal. I also think that I am getting familiar with almost all kind of styles in Europe”, Quadri Aruna

Stiff competition has undoubtedly helped Quadri Aruna whether playing in Portugal or France; in both countries for his club, he has been required to shoulder responsibility.

Also he has other responsibilities in his life; he has three children, Amira being the latest addition to the family.

“It feels so great and good combining table tennis and family at the same time but it has never been an easy process. I thank God for the great journey so far. I must confess that it’s a more difficult experience having three children and wife at home while travelling around the world as I am always missing my wife and kids while outside home. To be a family man means total responsibility. After I had my first child, my life changed positively and I started to get more responsible than before. Being a father gives special happiness and it’s one of the best things in life. Taking care of children has never been easy and one just has to take it as an important responsibility”, Quadri Aruna.

Setting new standards and also he sets an example; his attitude, his personality, his good manners makes him a role model, a very good role model indeed.

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