Segun Toriola Qualifies For Historic 7th Olympic Games

ToriolaAfrica’s most decorated table tennis player, Nigeria’s Segun Toriola, has become the first athlete in the continent to qualify for his seventh appearance at the Olympic Games.

The former African champion secured his place at the ITTF Africa Olympics Qualification Tournament in Khartoum, Sudan following his victory 4-0 over Togo’s Mawussi Agbetoglo in the final qualification stage.

Toriola made his debut at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in Spain and since then he has been participating at the Olympics and his presence at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games makes the first athlete in Africa to play at the multi-sports.

Also he holds the record as the most successful African table tennis player at the Olympics when he made it to the fourth round of the men’s singles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in China.

Individually, Toriola has won more 20 gold medals for Nigeria at international competitions which include African and Commonwealth Games, as well as series of continental championships.

From four consecutive editions of the Africa Games, Toriola dominated the men’s singles event claiming gold medals at Harare 1995, Johannesburg 1999, Abuja 2003 and Algiers 2007 being the first athlete to achieve such feat.

An elated Toriola said: “I am very happy and so excited because I never believe I could be playing in my seventh Olympics of my career. I am happy that I made history as the first African to achieve this feat. It was a bit difficult for me because I played under a lot of pressure. I knew it was going to be easy because I was the favourite before the competition, but I was cautions as most of the players wanted to beat me. I ensured I was not too confident in all my matches and I played with a lot of caution. I am glad that I made it and I hope to now focus on the preparation which is vital to me as well.

Toriola now joins table tennis legends Jean-Michel Saive of Belgium, Jorgen Persson from Sweden & Zoran Primorac of Croatia in an elite group of players who have played at seven Olympic Games.

Spain Wins Eurobasket    

spainSpain has won its third European Championship after a blistering performance by the talismanic Pau Gasol inspired them to an 80-63 points win over Lithuania in Sunday’s final.

The Chicago Bulls centre, who carried the Spaniards throughout the competition, picked 25 points and racked up 12 rebounds as the 2009 and 2011 winners enjoyed a fifth successive podium finish.

Having clinched automatic berths in 2016 Olympic Games by reaching the final, both sides produced entertaining basketball in Lille’s soccer stadium.

Dynamic playmaker, Sergio Llull, added 12 points, six rebounds and five assists for Spain, while Mantas Kalnietis and Renaldas Seibutis led Lithuania with 13 points each.

Equatorial Guinea Force Super Falcons Out Of 2016 Olympic Games

Super-FalconsNigeria’s Super Falcons will be missing from the football events at the 2016 Olympic games, after losing 1-2 to Equatorial Guinea in a qualifier match.

The team on Sunday evening in Bata failed to hold onto an early goal lead.

Midfielder Ngozi Okobi put Nigeria ahead in the 12th minute, but the Falcons then conceded an equaliser, with only four minutes left.

The Nigerian girls, who could only pull a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Abuja, were then caught off-guard in a goal-mouth scramble with only eight minutes left in extra time.

The Super Falcons in their last outing in the Women’s World Cup in Canada failed to make it through the group stage, after getting a draw against Sweden and losing to U.S. and Australia.

NFF Charges Super Falcons To Win In Bata

falconsThe Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, has urged the Super Falcons and the national under-23 men’s team to give the country a good representation as both teams leave for crucial games in the race to the 2016 Olympic Games.

Pinnick, who met the Falcons at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos, on their way to Bata, where they would face their Equatorial Guinean counterparts on Sunday, gave some words of encouragement to the team.

“The whole country is proud of what you have done in the past, winning seven African Women Championship titles out of nine so far, and qualifying for the Olympics in 2000, 2004 and 2008.

“Your superiority on the African continent has never been in doubt. What is left is for us to take that capability to the global stage. The entire nation has faith in you to overcome in Equatorial Guinea and eventually qualify for the Olympics,” he told the players.

The Falcons have a battle on their hands, having only drawn the first leg at home 1-1 against the only other substantial rival they have on the African continent.

“On Sunday, Nigerians expect you to deliver as you have always done. A place in the final round of the qualifying race to the Olympics is certainly within your grasp.”

In his response, Coach Christopher Danjuma gave the assurance that the Falcons would take the Sunday, August 2 match as a battle that must be won.

“The way it is, we have no choice but to fight and fight, because we must score goals. I want to assure Nigerians that my team is up to the task.”