by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
At the Liebherr 2015 Men’s World Cup in Düsseldorf Quadri Aruna became the first player from Africa to reach the quarter-final stage of the prestigious tournament; just over one year ago in the Men’s Singles event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, he replicated the feat. Against all expectations he reached the round of the last eight.
The win in Czestochowa means that he becomes the first player from Nigeria to win a Men’s Singles title on either the ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series; notably on home soil in Nigeria, in 2015 he had been beaten in the final by Egypt’s Omar Assar, his only previous Men’s Singles final in a recognised open international tournament.
He now joins Omar Assar as the only African player to win such a title and the only player to win beyond the continent’s shore. Omar Assar has three such titles to his name but all in Nigeria. He repeated his Lagos success earlier this year, having also won in 2014.
Furthermore, at the final hurdle in Czestochowa, Quadri Aruna beat a most worthy adversary; a decade ago Kaii Yoshida was pivotal to Japanese success, his right handed pen-hold grip all out attacking style of play challenging the very best.
Pertinently on the ITTF World Tour he won in 2006 in Serbia when beating Austria’s Kostadin Lengerov in the final, before more recently succeeding in Belarus in 2013 when he accounted for colleague, Kohei Sambe in the final.
Two titles, it was not to be a third; in the Czestochowa it was to be runners up spot, the top step of the podium belonged to Nigeria, to Quadri Aruna, a watershed moment for player and country.