by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
The seven times Olympian will have nine times African wrestling champion, Blessing Oborududu, as his deputy.
In an official statement released by Team Nigeria, the appointment was based on the outstanding record achieved and the example set by Segun Toriola.
“Apart from being the most successful athlete at the African Games, Toriola’s discipline and conduct at several tournaments stand him out. He is very calm and he has never been involved in any altercation with any official. He is well respected among his teammates and he is not an agitator who is fond of causing confusion in the camp. All these attributes are what promoted the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports to appoint Toriola as the captain and we hope he will lead the team to great heights in Morocco.”
Somewhat similarly, the appointment of Blessing Oborududu was based on experience.
Meanwhile for Segun Toriola the goal is clear, success in the men’s team event means a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games; one step higher than four years ago in 2015 is the immediate challenge.
“We are good to go because we have prepared very well. We will try our best to win at the Games. All is set with us because we have prepared well and every one of us is happy to be here.” Segun Toriola
Positive words by Segun Toriola, it was the same from Habu Gumel, President of Nigeria Olympic Committee.
“We are confident that with such a level of spirit, coupled with the lot of training they have received, Team Nigeria will give us the required medals. We are aiming for the Games’ top position, to be better than the last time in Congo when we finished second. We are here to win the Games.” Habu Gumel
Notably, also present in the Nigerian team is Olufunke Oshonaike; like Segun Toriola, she made her debut in 1991 in Cairo and like her illustrious male counterpart, who is aiming for a record breaking eighth Olympic Games appearance, she has a definitive goal.
She is aiming to become the first female athlete from Africa to feature in seven Olympic Games; she made her debut in 1996 in Atlanta. Notably Olufunke Oshonaike was the Nigerian flagbearer at the opening ceremony for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Overall Team Nigeria will be represented by 308 athletes and 58 officials competing in 22 sports.
Likewise Derek Abrefa has been appointed the General Captain of Team Ghana. He was the Flagbearer at the opening ceremony on Monday 19th August.
“I regard it a privilege to be appointed as the General Team Captain for Team Ghana at the ongoing African Games. I thank the Sports Ministry and team leaders for their trust in me to lead Team Ghana. I believe for us to dominate in Africa, we have to unite as a country. I will, therefore, do my best to build unity among all the players.” Derek Abrefa
A Ghana Immigration Officer, Derek Abrefa is his country’s highest ranked table tennis player, listed at no.241; four years ago in Congo Brazzaville he won bronze in the men’s team event.