by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Member Relations Media Officer
Very much a philanthropist, he will be heading to Tokyo as a member of the four strong Nigerian table tennis team. The 32-year-old lines up in the men’s singles alongside Olajide Omotayo, while Offiong Edem and Oufunke Oshonaike will be the players on duty in the women’s singles.
Overall, Quadri Aruna shoulders the responsibility of being the captain of Africa’s most populous nation.
Apart from his exceptional display in the arena, Aruna has been a role model for many Africans; his generosity towards the less privileged applauded.
Regularly, he has supported young Nigerian players as well as Paralympians with equipment – his annual visit to orphanages has been a key part of his calendar whenever he returns his home country.
On Monday 28th June at the Nigeria National Sports Federations meeting held in Abuja, the country’s capital, chaired by the Minister of Youth and Social Development, Sunday Dare, including technical directors, coaches, presidents, and secretaries of sports federation, Aruna was unanimously chosen as the captain of Team Nigeria for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The West African nation will be represented by 52 athletes in nine sports.
Initially, the battle for captainship was between Aruna and sprinter Divine Oduduru; the delegates at the meeting decided Aruna following his exploits and humanitarian gestures.
Voted Player of the Year in 2014 at the ITTF Star Awards evening, Aruna will be assisted by the captain of the national women’s basketball team, Adaora Elonu.
World and Commonwealth wrestling medallist, Odunayo Adekuoroye, was chosen as the flag bearer. She will be assisted by African long jump record holder, Ese Brume.
The President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) Ishaku Tikon described Aruna’s selection as a positive development for table tennis.
“I am particularly excited that people outside table tennis recognised the quality possessed by Aruna. His humility, coupled with his generosity, may have won him the applause during the meeting because I was at the meeting, and I was surprised that he was even suggested by one of the coaches outside table tennis. This goes to show that Aruna is a good ambassador of table tennis and I hope more players in Africa and Nigeria will take a cue from him.” Ishaku Tikon, NTTF President
Play in the table tennis events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games commences on Saturday 24th July.