by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Segun Toriola lines up alongside Quadri Aruna, Bode Abiodun, Olajide Omotayo and Taiwo Mati; for Olufunke Oshonaike she joins forces with Fatimo Bello, Offiong Edem, Ajoke Ojomu and Cecila Akpan.
Already, 45 year old Segun Toriola, who has competed in seven Olympic Games (Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2006, London 2012 and Rio 2016) is one of the most decorated table tennis stars in Africa. He is aiming to set a new world record as the first table tennis player to attend eight Olympic Games.
At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the former African Champion joined the league of table tennis elites, Sweden’s Jörgen Persson, Croatia’s Zoran Primorac and Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive, players who have competed in seven Olympic Games.
Notably, his biggest achievement at the Olympic Games to date is reaching the last 16 of the men’s singles event in 2008. On that occasion, he accounted for David Zhuang of the United States, Portugal’s João Monteiro and Belgium Jean-Michel Saive before losing the Korea Republic’s Oh Sangeun.
Somewhat similarly, Olufunke Oshonaike, a mother of two, is also aiming to become the first female table tennis player to compete at seven Olympic Games, having made her debut at in Atlanta.
“I will be so happy if I can make it to my seventh Olympic Games; this will be the climax of my career. I want to use this feat to inspire women globally that age is just a number and that you can achieve whatever you put your mind on in life. It has been a tortuous journey to get to this stage in my career and if I make it to Tokyo, I will be so excited and happy.” Olufunke Oshonaike
Nigeria is the no.14 seed in the men’s event in Gondomar, the no.27 seed in the women’s competition.