Aruna Makes Historic Top 10 In ITTF World Ranking

Aruna Quadri in action.
Aruna Quadri in action.

 

Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna has become the first African and black player to be ranked in the top 10 in world table tennis ranking.

According to “2022 ITTF Table Tennis World Ranking – Week 18”; made available on Tuesday May 3, 2022, the number one player in Africa is now ranked 10th in the world.

In a statement released by the World Table Tennis (WTT), it has been a long time coming as the King of Africa has finally made it into the Top 10 in the world.

READ ALSO: Fourth Edition Of Prosperity Cup Kicks Off In Yenagoa

“Aruna has truly been mister consistent in both his performances and his participation. The Nigerian has spent the last year notching up a string of finishes inside the top eight, while being one of the most active players on the WTT scene,” the statement partly read.

“It has included sensational headlines such as taking out China’s rising stars in succession at the 2022 WTT Star Contender Doha and a quarterfinal appearance at the World Table Tennis Championships Finals. It looks like the 33-year-old is just getting started.”

Also, Egypt’s Omar Assar returned to the top 18 in the world ranking after the African champion gained eight steps up in the rating to occupy 18th place in the Men’s singles ranking.

Unlike Aruna and Assar, the trio of Ahmed Saleh of Egypt, Ibrahima Diaw of Senegal and Nigeria’s Olajide Omotayo dropped from the ranking order. Saleh dropped nine steps down to 58th, Diaw slid to 61st while Omotayo dropped by 10 steps to be ranked 99th.

Another Nigerian player, Bode Abiodun, gained 34 steps up to climb to 97th in the world.

In the women’s ranking, Egypt’s Mariam Alhodaby has become the highest ranked African female player as the 2021 African champion rose to 40th in the latest ranking while teenage sensation Hana Goda gained 132 steps up to be ranked 42nd in the world and displaced compatriot – Dina Meshref who dropped to 46th in the ranking.

Egypt’s Yousra Helmy gained 14 steps up to occupy 67th place while Nigeria’s Offiong Edem gained 10 steps to be ranked 89th.

In a related development, the ITTF Executive Committee at the weekend approved the latest proposition formulated by the World Ranking Working Group (WRWG). Basically, the ITTF Table Tennis Ranking of a player is composed of the sum of the points of the best eight results achieved in the last 12 months. An objective merit-based method, it is used for entries and seeding at ITTF and WTT events.

Another Record-Breaking Feat For Aruna As He Rises To 13th In World Ranking

Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna competing at the ITTF World Table Tennis Championship in Houston

 

Just days after making history as the first African player to reach the quarter-final stage at the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships, Quadri Aruna has set another African record following the release of the latest ITTF ranking today.

The Nigerian was ranked 17 in the world before the Championships in Houston, Texas, in the United States, and with that record-breaking performance, Aruna gained four steps up in the ranking to be rated 13th in the ITTF ranking – the best ever position occupied by an African.

Being the biggest mover among the top 20 players in the world, Aruna has continued to raise the bar for other African players to emulate with his superlative performance at major competitions which has also earned him a place among the top 20 players invited for the 2021 World Table Tennis (WTTF) Cup Finals scheduled for December 4 to 7 in Singapore.

READ ALSO: Aruna Reaches Quarter-Final In Houston, Improves African Record

After the ranking was released, Aruna described the achievement as more work for him.

“I am so excited to improve my world ranking, and this means I must work hard to remain on top in the world. This is another task I must face in my career, and I will not relent to do my best as I look forward to the WTTF Cup Finals taking place this weekend in Singapore,” he said.

For the President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Ishaku Tikon, the latest feat by Aruna would surely motivate other upcoming players to work harder.

“We are so excited that within one week, Aruna has set two African records as the first to reach the quarterfinal of the World Championships as well as the first African to be ranked 13th in the world.

“This for us as a federation means we must find another Aruna who can exceed what he has done. Our focus remains on the cadet and junior and we are going to ensure we organise tournaments and expose them to international competitions. I must also commend Aruna for his conduct within and outside the table because he has shown to be a good ambassador of the sport and we hope to complement this feat by ensuring we unearth more Arunas,” Tikon said.

Surprise package at the tournament in Houston, Truls Moregard of Sweden is the biggest mover in the latest ITTF ranking. The 19-year-old, who finished as runner-up, moved from 77th spot to 31st in the ranking, while newly crowned world champion Fan Zhendong of China maintained his top position.

ATTF Describes Quadri Aruna As Table Tennis Trailblazer

Aruna Quadri is regarded as one of the best table tennis players around.

 

The African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) has described Quadri Aruna as a trailblazer in table tennis following the feat achieved by the Nigerian at the 2021 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships held in Houston, Texas, United States.

Aruna has continued to exceed expectations with his performance at major international competitions and improved his game in Houston to become the first African to make it to the quarterfinal stage in the history of the world championships.

He was unlucky in the quarter-finals, losing 4-2 to Sweden’s Truls Moregard in a match he was tipped as favourite to win. Moregard created more upset by beating the respected Timo Bol 4-3 to reach the final of the tournament.

READ ALSO: Aruna Reaches Quarter-Final In Houston, Improves African Record

The Nigerian was named the World Table Tennis Player in 2014. He went on to become the first African to reach the quarterfinal stage at the Olympic Games and ITTF World Cup, and in Houston, he set a new African record as the first African player to make it to the last eight.

The 33-year-old two-time Nigeria Open champion has been hailed for his conduct on and off the table during the Houston tournament which put the continent on the world table tennis map.

ATTF President, Khaled El-Salhy, said Aruna has continually broken the barrier for African players with his outstanding performance that has continued to inspire a lot of players across the globe.

“I am so proud of the super performance of Quadri Aruna here in 2021 WTTC – Houston. He is always breaking the records. And as one of the top African players participating in the World Championships, he reached the quarter final stage for the first time by any player from Africa. He is always working hard to improve himself and he has the quality to compete against world top stars in any major competition,” he said.

He added: “Aruna is a table tennis icon for Africa and a good role model to all our young players to emulate.”

Apart from Aruna’s feat, the ATTF boss described the city of Houston as a historic place for Africa with the elections of two African representatives – Wahid Oshodi of Nigeria and Alaa Meshref of Egypt as Executive Vice Presidents of ITTF.

“Houston will remain a historical WTTC event for Africa after the great achievement at the AGM where Africa secured two slots in the ITTF Executive Committee (EC) and this was followed by the excellent result achieved by Quadri Aruna after reaching the quarterfinal as the first African player,” El-Salhy added.

Aruna Reaches Quarter-Final In Houston, Improves African Record

Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna is seen in action at the World Championship in Houston. Picture courtesy: ITTF.

 

Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna has become the first African to reach the quarter-final stage in the history of the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals.

The Nigerian is making a loud statement and his presence is being felt amidst the array of stars competing at the 2021 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals taking place at the George R. Brown Convention Centre in Houston, Texas, United States.

Record Breaker

Earlier on Thursday, Aruna smashed the round of 32 record set in 2019 by Egypt’s duo of Omar Assar and Ahmed Saleh after beating India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran 4-3 (11-9, 7-11, 13-15, 11-3, 4-11, 11-9, 11-7) into the round of 16.

But late on Friday, November 26, he erased the record to set another one with a place in the quarterfinal of the championships.

In the round of 16 contest, the 2014 ITTF World Player of Year improved the record to become the first Nigerian and African player to feature in the last eight at the World Table Tennis Championship after he defeated Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson 4-3 (11-9, 5-11, 13-11, 5-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6).

“It’s amazing. I had to dig deep, and I gave everything I had. I’m excited about the quarter-final. I’ve been playing very well and the spirit of never giving up is always there,” said Aruna during a post-match interview.

Aruna’s historic passage to the last eight at the World Table Tennis Championship is a testament to the growth of table tennis in Africa. “It means a lot to me,” he said, “especially for Nigeria and the whole of Africa. Table tennis is growing very fast in Africa. Now we have several players in the Top 100.”

READ ALSO: Residents Of Sangana Community, Bayelsa Protest Gas Leakage, Water Pollution

Sustaining The Momentum

Reaching the last 8 of the world championship is already a recording-breaking feat for Aruna, but sustaining the momentum is what will keep him going.

The Nigerian will confront another Swedish record-breaker Truls Moregard in the quarter-final clash tonight in Houston. The Swedish player who is ranked 77th in the world beat South Korea’s Lim Jonghoon 4-3 to advance at the tournament.

Aruna and the Swede last met in August at the WTT Contender in Budapest and Moregard won 3-2. The Nigerian will go into the contest on Saturday night, relying on his current form and the support he has received worldwide after a record-breaking performance.

Tournament Sparks

According to ITTF, players from Africa, Europe, North America, South America, and Asia are expected to continue lighting up the historical event which is being hosted in the Americas for the first time in its storied history.

While the Asian and European players have not disappointed with their stellar performances, their challenges on the international stage are now continuously being tested by emerging powerhouses from the rest of the world, making table tennis a genuinely global sport.

Kanak Jha also proved he could match up to anyone on his day. The 21-year-old American is part of the new generation of up-and-coming stars destined to light up the competition in the table tennis world. He is the first man American player to reach this stage since 1959.

Although fellow Pan-American Adriana Diaz did not qualify for the quarterfinals, she achieved her best result during this World Championships by reaching the round of 16.

The first female table tennis player to represent Puerto Rico on the Olympic stage hopes many will follow her path. “I want to move the sport forward, make more people play, and bring even more people to my sport,” she said after her match.

Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, who won his first international title at WTT Star Contender Doha in September and currently ranks number four, becomes the first-ever Brazilian to reach the quarterfinals.

While this year’s World Championships quarterfinals truly showcase the universality of table tennis, the ITTF will do its utmost to foster new initiatives and ultimately grow the sport worldwide.

Nigeria To Host ITTF Africa Western Region Challenge

 

 

Nigeria will be hosting the second edition of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Africa Western Region Challenge scheduled to take place in Lagos State from November 1-4th 2021.

About 14 other African countries will also compete.

The tournament which serves as a platform to attain regional ranking will have Nigeria staking its pedigree in the region against teams like Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin Republic, Senegal, Togo, Gambia, Liberia, Gambia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Niger Republic, and Sierra Leone.

According to the Regional Vice President ITTF AFRICA West, Ferdinand Sounou, the tournament is the first regional competition to be staged amidst the COVID-19 pandemic with all eyes on Nigeria to stage a befitting tournament just like it has been a leading nation organising an elite tournament in the continent.

Sounou who is also the President of Benin Table Tennis Federation said: “I think this regional tournament has come well in order to liven up the region a little because, in 2019, Lagos should have organised until it was moved to Abidjan. This is just the first regional tournament after my election last June and it is normal that we start the activities of the region from Nigeria which is a great table tennis nation within the region.”

The chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Wahid Enitan Oshodi is optimistic the tournament will provide a good platform for players to test themselves against one another. Oba Oba Kizitio of Cote d’Ivoire and Fatimo Bello of Nigeria are the defending champions in men and women singles and will be hoping to retain their titles.

Oshodi believes the inclusion of team and doubles events would make the tournament competitive.

“I believe this is another chance for the players to compete at the regional level being the second edition after the maiden edition in 2019 in Abidjan.

“Lagos is ready to welcome top players from the region and we are hopeful that we can stage the tournament with all the covid-19 protocol in place for teams and players.

“It promises to be exciting as the Molade Okoya-Thomas of Teslim Balogun Stadium will come alive for the best of table tennis again this year. We are looking forward to an exciting tournament,” he concluded.

ITTF Inducts Oshonaike Into Exclusive ‘Club 7’

File photo of Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike.

 

Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike has been inducted into the exclusive club of seven-time Olympians known as the ‘Club 7’ by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).

Oshonaike who is the first table tennis player in the world and the first female athlete in Africa to attend seven Olympic Games becomes the first female to be inducted into the 7th Club.

The induction ceremony was done in Tokyo on Monday and attended by the President of ITTF Thomas Weikert as well as former inductees – Jörgen Persson of Sweden (1988 to 2012), Zoran Primorac of Croatia and the former Yugoslavia (1988 to 2012), Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive (1988 to 2012) and Segun Toriola (1992 – 2016).

Across the globe, only four male table tennis players in the world have been inducted since table tennis became an Olympic sport at Seoul ‘88 Olympic Games in South Korea and Oshonaike increased the number to five being the first female player in the world.

READ ALSO: Djokovic, Osaka Cruise At Olympics As Women’s Seeds Tumble

Toriola made his Olympic debut at the Barcelona ‘92 Olympic Games, while Oshonaike made her Olympic Games debut at the Atlanta ‘96 Games in the United States.

The former African champion hopes the achievement would encourage young players in the continent to achieve their dreams.

“I hope this award for me and my country, as the only female in the seventh club in the world, and the only woman in Africa to have achieved the dream of representing her country at the Olympics seven times, will brighten the hearts of Nigerians especially for young girls that dreams can come through regardless of the challenges in life,” she said.

“Though I might not have won gold, silver or bronze, I have won what no woman in the world of table tennis has ever won. Thank God for the award – the 7 Club award. I’m a proud Nigerian and I hope more women will join me.”

Oshonaike bowed out in the preliminary round of the women’s singles after losing to Liu Juan of the United States, while she, however, ruled herself out from the next Olympics in France.

 

Houston To Host 2021 World Table Tennis Championships

United States of America Lily Zhang. Picture Courtesy: ITTF Media

 

The city of Houston, in the United States of America, will host the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships and will be the first time it will be hosted in the Americas and also the first time it will be done outside Europe and Asia since 1939.

This most historic event in Table Tennis, dating as far back as 1926, will showcase the world’s best table tennis players and it’s scheduled to serve off from 23rd-29th November this year.

Officials have announced that fans will be able to attend the event with tickets going on sale this August.

Adopting a revamped and expanded format for the first time, the flagship tournament of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), will feature 128 players in singles (Men and Women) and 64 pairs in each of the doubles competitions (Men Doubles, Women Doubles, Mixed Doubles) competing in a straight knockout format.

Qualification for the tournament has been revised due to the challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. Several qualification tournaments including the regional and continental qualification events for the singles events were cancelled.

With the disruption caused by the pandemic, the ITTF Table Tennis World Rankings were used to determine the qualification of players for this year’s tournament. The application of the 3+1+1 rule states that each Member Association (MA) will be limited to a maximum of three players will be applied.

The exception will be of those MAs with a player in the top 100 World Ranking (who will be allocated one extra place) and a player in the top 20 World Ranking (who will be allocated one further extra place).

MAs will need to confirm their players by 23rd August 2021 and are permitted to replace their allocated player with another, as long as they are among the top 256 players in the ITTF Table Tennis World Ranking. A final playing list will be announced in September.

READ ALSO: Roger Federer Withdraws From Tokyo Olympics

The World Table Tennis Championship was last held in Budapest in 2019. The Team edition was scheduled to take place in the Republic of Korea, in Busan last year was postponed and eventually cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2022 World Table Tennis Team Championship will take place in Chengdu, China.

Aruna’s Tokyo Olympics Qualification Confirmed By ITTF

File Photo of Haruna Quadri

 

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) have confirmed the qualification status of Nigeria’s top player, Quadri Aruna for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.

In a letter addressed to the President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) and President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) and singed by ITTF Competition Director Gabor Felegyi, Aruna who is the first African in the history of the Olympic Games to make it to the quarter-final stage of the singles event will join 85 others across the globe to compete in the men’s singles event at Tokyo Olympic Games next month.

“It is with great pleasure, I advise the qualification of Quadri Aruna to compete in the table tennis Men’s Singles event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, on the basis of World Ranking allocation according to the June 2021 ITTF Olympic Qualification Ranking,” Felegyi stated.

The NOC is expected to confirm Aruna’s participation on or before June 16.

READ ALSO: Real Madrid Announce Ancelotti As New Coach

With this development, Aruna will be making his third appearance at the Olympic Games having featured in London 2012 and Rio 2016 and he will join his compatriots – Olajide Omotayo, Olufunke Oshonaike and Edem Offiong to compete in the singles event at Tokyo.

It was at Rio 2016 in Brazil that the Nigerian stunned the world with his performance, becoming the first African to reach the quarterfinal after edging out some of the best players in the world including former world number one, Timo Boll of Germany before losing to the eventual winner, Ma Long of China in the quarterfinal.

An excited Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of NTTF, Ishaku Tikon said he has been proved right with the confirmation by ITTF as the exploits of Aruna in the last two years were enough to secure a place for him in Tokyo.

“When Aruna got injured during the African Qualifying tournament in Tunis last year, I told the world that he will make it to Tokyo as he is ranked among the top 10 in the Olympic ranking. Despite the setback in Tunisia, Aruna did not relent in his performance and for me I am so excited as a Nigerian because his qualification will surely motivate others to look up to him and aim for the best in Tokyo,” Tikon said.

Already 64 players have been confirmed for the men’s singles event while the remaining six slots will be allocated as wildcards.

Nigeria’s Mustapha Becomes World’s Best Cadet Player

Nigeria’s teenage table tennis sensation Musa Mustapha.

 

Nigeria’s teenage table tennis sensation Musa Mustapha has been ranked the world’s best player in the boys’ U-11 by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).

Mustapha becomes the second African to clinch the number one spot in the world after Hana Goda was named the best in the U-15 girls category last year.

The youngster was part of the Nigerian team that won the 2019 ITTF Junior Circuit in Ghana and the world table tennis ruling body has also been monitoring the player in the last three years after he made his senior debut at the 2018 Nigeria Open in Lagos.

In the ranking list released by ITTF, Mustapha with 128 points is number one U-11 while he is also ranked 17th in the U-13 category while his brother Mustapha was rated 18th in the same cadre.

READ ALSO: Inter Milan Withdraw From Super League

The Al-Faizun Junior Academy student is expected to be part of the World Youth Series taking place later this year in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

National junior champion, Taiwo Matti is also ranked 12th in the U-17s and 64th in the U-19s.

According to ITTF, the newly formed WTT Youth Series replaces the ITTF World Junior Circuit and now complemented by the new ranking regulations, being the first step in the whole of the sport pathway that will drive today’s most promising young talent towards the pinnacle of the sport.

Portugal will host the first-ever WTT Youth Series event, with the inaugural WTT Youth Contender to take place in Vila Real from Tuesday 11 to Monday 17th May. It will be the first youth event to be staged since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ITTF World Cup: Quadri Aruna Knocked Out On Day One

File photo of Aruna Quadri

 

Nigeria’s No.1 player, Quadra Aruna, has been beaten by Slovenian player, Darko Jorgic at the ITTF Men’s World Cup which kicked off in Dishang, China.

The shocking loss was disclosed on Friday by the International Table Tennis Federation.

“The Slovenian has caused a major upset here in the final match of day, as he has managed to eliminate Quadri Aruna from the group stages and reach the round of 16!” ITTF said.

“Drawn in a group with two veterans of the sport, Darko Jorgic has shown his class and composure to come through with a decisive win.

“Sadly for Aruna, he is unable to proceed to the knockouts on his sixth appearance at the Men’s World Cup.”

The 32-year-old Aruna fell 4-2; 11-4, 8-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-8, 11-4 to the 22-year-old Jorgic.

While Nigeria’s Aruna is ranked 20th in the world, Slovania’s Jorgic is ranked 34th in the world.

2020 ITTF World Cup: Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna To Challenge German, Slovenian Opponents

File Photo of Haruna Quadri

 

Nigeria’s representative at the 2020 ITTF World Cup, Quadri Aruna will challenge Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic in group three of the first round stage of the championship taking place in Weihai, China.

The tournament is one of the four restart competitions lined-up by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) for the return of international events following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

International table tennis events have been paused since March 2020 and the restart tournaments include, Women’s World Cup, Men’s World Cup, ITTF Finals and WTT championship scheduled for Macau later this month.

Already, the Women’s World Cup has concluded with China’s Chen Meng emerging as champion in her maiden outing and the Men’s World Cup which has Aruna and Egypt’s Ahmed Saleh as Africa’s representatives kicks off on Friday, November 13 to 15 at Weihai Nanhai Olympic Sport Centre.

The Nigerian will slug it out for a place in the main draw against German Franziska while his final group match will be against the young Slovenian who is considered as one of the emerging stars from Europe.

Quadri Aruna is a bronze medallist at the 2019 ITTF Africa Cup, and he is seeded no.13 among the 21 players competing in the three-day tournament.

With Aruna’s experience, he is regarded as one of the underdogs of the competition. This will be his sixth World Cup appearance since making his debut in 2009 in Moscow, Russia.

A statement from ITTF highlights Aruna’s prestige in world table tennis as thus: “A regular at world title events, Quadri Aruna is no stranger to pushing the table tennis elite to the limit. Aruna will want to improve his best quarter-final finish of six years ago in Düsseldorf, as he could not go past the round of 16 in last year’s edition. What will the African representative bring to the table in Weihai?”

The top two players in the four groups are expected to advance to the main draw where they will be drawn against the top eight seeds in the main draw of the championship.

Nigeria, Egypt To Compete At ITTF Team World Cup

 

African champions, Nigeria and Egypt will represent the continent at the 2019 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Team World Cup taking place at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

The five-day event will serve off on November 6th to 10th and also serves as a qualifying process for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Nigeria secured their place at the tournament following their triumph at the 2018 African Championships held in Mauritius and the West African side will be returning to the tournament after their last appearance in 2010.

At the 2013 edition in China, Egypt’s men team led by Omar Assar stunned the world to claim bronze medal ahead of Germany in the third place tie.

Already, the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) have named a five-man team led by seven-time Olympian Segun Toriola for the championship. The team also includes world number 19, Aruna Quadri, Olajide Omotayo, Bode Abiodun and Azeez Solanke.

Egypt has the African women’s champion and they have named Dina Meshref, Reem El-Eraky, Yousra Helmy, Marwa Alhodaby and Farah Abdel-Aziz to compete at the tournament.

The tournament will feature teams that meet the standard of the Olympic Games, serving as a dress rehearsal for the showpiece event in 2020.