by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Present in his nation’s colours for two decades, he will be performing a somewhat new role; he will be both player and coach. It is a challenge that the 38 year old relishes.
“I am really looking forward to the tournament because of my long absence from this competition. The last time I played, it was in 2010 in Cameroon if I remember correctly.
Personally I don’t have big expectations. I am going there as a player and coach, so my focus will be more on the team than my individual expectations; of course I will try my best to make it to the podium.
Preparation has been going well. I have been spending more time in the gym and on the table with Theo Cogill and Simeen Mookrey. We have been training together regularly as part of our preparation for the tournament.
I think it will be more difficult this time around because there are much better quality players than before. However, my approach is always the same. It doesn’t matter who I play, I always play to win. I will try my best to make it to the podium. Like I said I have a double role as player and coach and my focus will be more on the well-being of the team to play for a medal.
There are much better players than before so the standard is much higher than a couple of years ago; this is good for the game and Africa as a whole. It also means that table tennis in Africa is improving. If you look at the likes of Quadri Aruna and Omar Assar, they are the proof of this.
My target in the tournament is to try my best and hopefully get a medal but as a team, we want to finish in the top four. I believe there is a record amount of entries with more African countries opting to come and play in this Championship. So it makes it very interesting and exciting.
Of course South Africa is my favourite team but I think everyone knows by now that the two favourite teams in Africa for the past 15 to 20 years are Nigeria and Egypt. In Mauritius it will be no different.”