Nigeria And Egypt Confirmed For ITTF World Tour

Nigeria And Egypt Confirmed For ITTF World TourThe International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), confirms participation of Nigeria and Egypt in the first major ITTF World Tour for 2017.

The Hungarian Open will serve off between January 19 and 22 in Budapest.

The largest number of participating players for any country in the tournament is from Nigeria,as the highest ranked player in the continent; Aruna Quadri leads four other Nigerian players to the championship.

All Hands On Deck
African Champion, Egypt’s Omar Assar, will be competing alongside his sibling – Khaled in the competition.

Besides Quadri, other Nigerian players in the $70,000 prize money championship are Italy-based duo of Olajide Omotayo and Kazeem Makanjuola and Portugal-based pair of Bode Abiodun, and Ojo Onaolapo.

Omotayo, Bello Emerge Winners Of ITTF Nigerian Open qualifiers

ITTF - Nigerian Open - Olajide OmotayoOlajide Omotayo and Fatimo Bello have emerged winners in the qualifiers for the 2016 ITTF World Tour tagged Nigerian Open.

The competition featured over 106 male and 48 female players at the National Training Centre of the National Stadium in Lagos.

Omotayo, a former national junior champion, was unbeaten at the two-day tournament to lead the men’s event while Bello had to dig deep to defeat national junior champion, Tosin Oribamishe, in the final of the women event.

To win the men’s event, Omotayo was merciless in the final against an experienced Kazeem Makanjuola with a 4-0 bashing to emerge as the new national champion.

Major Discovery

The speed and skills of Omotayo were beyond Makanjuola in the entertaining encounter, as Bello had to rely on experience to defeat Oribamise in the women’s final.

Beside Omotayo and Makanjuola, others that made it to the top four in the men’s event were Oladele Kehinde and unknown Akanbi Rilwan.

In the women competition, Bello, Oribamise as well as Bose Odusanya and Nimota Aregbola completed the top four-finish.

The top four finishers have also secured their places at the 2016 ITTF Nigerian Open scheduled for May 18 to 22 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.

The referee of the tournament, John Peters, said that the players gave good account of themselves.

He identified Nimota Aregbesola as the major discovery after edging out the number one seed, Halimot Hussein in the quarterfinal as well as another top seed, Sidikat Yaya in the round of 16.

Olympic Qualification: Segun Toriola Targets History In Sudan

Segun ToriolaAll eyes will be on Segun Toriola when the 2016 Africa Olympic Qualification Tournament begins in Khartoum, Sudan from February 16 to 18, 2016 as he aims to become the first African to play in seven Olympics.

The former five-time Africa champion holds the record of becoming the first Nigerian to feature in six Olympic Games after the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Toriola made his debut at the Barcelona 1992 Olympics in Spain, and since then, he has made it to all the Olympics with his best record of reaching the Men’s Singles 1/16 final at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, beating amongst others former world number 1, Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive as well as Canada’s David Zhuang.

His 1/32 match-up with Jean-Michel Saive was seen by many as one of the highlights of the Men’s Singles Tournament. He narrowly lost 4-3 to heavily favoured South Korea’s Oh Sang-Eun in the round of 16.

His fifth Olympic appearance in 2008 made him the first Nigerian man to appear at five Olympics. This feat was achieved four years earlier by sprinter Mary Onyali and also in 2008 by another table tennis player Bose Kaffo.

With his participation in the 2012 Olympics in London, he became the only Nigerian athlete to feature at six Olympics. He therefore joined João N’Tyamba of Angola and Maria Mutola of Mozambique as only third ever African athlete to compete in six Olympics.

Having narrowly missed the automatic qualification at the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville following his quarterfinal loss to Congo Brazzaville’s Wang Jianan, Segun Toriola will be hoping for one of the two slots available in the men’s event in Sudan.

As the most successful table tennis player in Africa, all eyes are fixed on the Nigerian as he aims to become the first African to play in seven Olympics.

According to the President of Africa Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), Khaled El-Salhy, the tournament hopes to open a new chapter in the history of table tennis in the continent with Segun Toriola on the verge of history while the host – Sudan hopes to stage a colourful event.

“It will be a very big surprise and a real honour for Africa Table Tennis to host such Top 16 Cup followed by the African Qualification 2nd Tournament for 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

On whether Congo Brazzaville can nominate their second Chinese import for the qualifiers, the ATTF boss said; “In-spite of the African qualification tournament for 2016 Rio OG, it will take place in Khartoum – Sudan on February 16 to 18, 2016 just after the ITTF-Africa Top 16 Cup, and the eligibility for such event is for all nominees having valid passports (i.e. according to IOC eligibility), the same rules already applied for the 11th African Games as the 1st qualification event to 2016 Rio OG.

“This means that as Congo Brazzaville still entitled to send one entry in each single event (men & women), thus they can nominate HU Bin in men & also LI Yuheng in women if they wish to do so.”

He added: “All African Associations entitle to send two entries (men) + two entries (women) for the African Qualification Tournament in Sudan (16-18/2/2016) except for Sudan as the host to have 4 men + 4 women, Congo Brazzaville to send 1 man + 1 woman, Nigeria to send 1 man + 1 woman, while for Egypt has no chance to send any entries in both. This is due to the already qualified players from the 1st stage of qualification in Brazzaville (September 2015) with 4 men + 4 women including (2 from EGY, 1 from NGR & 1 from CGO), especially all those qualified players already confirmed by their NOCs to play in 2016 Rio OG.”

Segun Toriola has won multiple medals in continental and international singles tournaments. Some of his important achievements include winning the African Table Tennis Singles Championships four times in 1998, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2 Doubles Championships in 1994 and 1992. He also has a Commonwealth Singles Championship gold medal which he won in Manchester in 2002.

 

Toriola Pulls Out Of African Senior Cup

Segun ToriolaNigeria’s experienced table tennis player, Segun Toriola, has pulled out of this year’s International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) African Senior Cup serving off in Yaounde, Cameroon on Tuesday.

According to a release by the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Toriola will not feature due to fatigue and ill-health.

The six-time Olympian, who was hoping to use the tournament to assess other players ahead of the September All Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo, says he is disappointed at missing out of the event.

He expressed optimism that ‘Team Nigeria’ will do well at the championship.

Home grown talent, Kazeem Makanjuola, has been called up to replace the 40-year old.

In reaction, he said: “I am very excited that I was considered to step into the shoes of Segun Toriola after he withdrew due to ill-health and I understand the confidence that NTTF repose on me and I must ensure I don’t fail them in Cameroon.

“Also, this has afforded me the rare opportunity to make my second appearance at the tournament after losing to El-Sayed Lashin in 2013 in the quarter-final stage while I defeated him during the Club Championship at same event. For me, I see this as an opportunity to prove myself and make my country proud”.

ITTF Confirms Nigeria, Others for World Championships in China

table-tennis_Aruna_QadriThe International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has confirmed Nigeria and 99 others for the World Championships in the Chinese city of Suzhou, China, scheduled to serve off on April 26 to May 3.

Three African players have been listed seeded for the tournament with Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri topping the list in number thirty. Also seeded from Africa in the men’s singles is Egypt’s Omar Assar ranked 32 for the tournament while the only female player in Africa seeded is Egypt’s Dina Meshref listed in number 62 for the tournament.

In the list of Nigerian players confirmed for the championship, Quadri will be joined in the men’s singles by Segun Toriola, Ojo Onaolapo and Kazeem Makanjuola, while in the women’s team, Edem Offiong, Janet Effiom and Germany-based Funke Oshonaike.

According to the world table tennis ruling body, the seeding is based on the World Ranking lists released on Wednesday April 1.

China’s Ma Long heads the Men’s Singles order of merit, followed by his three compatriots Xu Xin, Zhang Jike, and Fan Zhendong. The third on the list but if one player enjoys the big stage it is Zhang Jike, the Men’s Singles winner in Rotterdam in 2011 and two years ago in Paris.

Both Ma Long and Xu Xin have occupied the top spot on the Men’s World Rankings during the past year and more but in a World Championships Men’s Singles event, they have to rise to the levels of which they are undoubtedly capable.

The third seeded position in the Men’s Singles seeding for the reigning champion; it is the same in the Women’s Singles event for China’s Li Xiaoxia, the winner two years ago in Paris. She is named behind compatriots Ding Ning, the champion in Rotterdam in 2011 and Liu Shiwen, the player Li Xiaoxia beat two years ago in the Paris final.

For the doubles event, the draw involving the top 16 seeds will take place on Saturday, April 25 at the Suzhou Cultural and Art Center.

A total of 310 men and 238 women players will compete at the eight-day event with capacity crowd anticipated.

Nigeria’s Male Team Misses Out On Promotion, Female Team Survives Relegation

Aruna-QuadriNigeria’s hope of gaining promotion to the championship division at the 2014 World Team Table Tennis Championship has been dashed after losing narrowly to England in the quarter-final stage to settle for the seventh place in division two.

With the victory, England makes a return to the Championship division for the first time in seventeen years.

In previous meetings, England dominated Nigeria but with the fine performance of Segun Toriola, Kazeem Makanjuola, Aruna Quadri and Ojo Onaolapo in Tokyo, Nigeria is taking back its place in world table tennis.

After finishing second to Czech Republic in group E, team Nigeria defeated Turkey in the knockout stage and started the match against England on a good note when Quadri, who finished 16 at the 2014 Spanish Open beat the Paul Drinkhall 12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6 to give Nigeria the lead.

The win serves as good experience for Quari, as beating Drinkhall, who won the Spanish Open few weeks ago in the city of Almeria in Spain, will surely motivate him to impress whenever he challenges quality opponents.

Team captain, Toriola, increased the lead when he fought well to beat Liam Pitchford 10-12, 12-10, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6. At this stage of the match, Nigeria were favourites to qualify for the semi-finals.

But the turning point for the English team was when Onaolapo was beaten 11-5, 11-7, 11-6 by Daniel Reed. This put the overall result at 2-1 with Nigeria leading.

The win against Onaolapo brought out the best in the British players who improved to win their next two matches against Quadri and Toriola.

In the fourth game, Pitchford avenged Drinkhall loss to Quadri when he overwhelmed Quadri 5-11, 11-6, 5-11, 6-11, while Drinkhall rounded up the game with 6-11, 11-9, 5-11, 9-11 win over Toriola to put the overall result at 3-2.

England captain, Drinkhall admitted that the encounter against the Nigerians remained the most difficult game for them in the tournament.

“We’re really happy to have come through, we had a difficult start to the match with me losing the first match. I think if I would have won that, we might have won 3-0; this was the first real test for our team and I am happy we made it through. I think we can take this match as positive,” Drinkhall confirmed.

Japan’s Ishikawa Juan was full of praise for the Nigerian team.

“I never expected much from the Nigerians but since the start of the tournament, they have proved to be a good team especially with what they played against England. I think they are a good side and they just need to continue in the fine form to get back to the elite division. I wish them well,” Ishikawa said.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian female team put up a good show in the classification match to avoid relegation with wins over Peru, Turkey and Israel. The wins ensured that the team remained in division two for the next edition of the competition taking place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2016.

The performance of Nigeria will surely improve their world ratings when the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) world ranking is released after the championship.

Nigerian Players Crash Out Of Singles Event At ITTF World Tour In Kuwait

Nigerian duo of Aruna Quadri and Kazeem Makanjuola have crashed out of the men’s singles event at the ongoing International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour tagged Kuwait Open.

Makanjuola was the first to say goodbye to the tournament after failing to win a game in his two matches against his French and Portuguese counterparts. The debutant at the ITTF World Tour lost to Frenchman Benjamin Brossier 5-11, 9-11, 8-11, 5-11, and suffered another defeat against Portugal’s Joao Monteiro 10-12, 7-11, 6-11, 7-11

Portugal-based Aruna Quadri started his campaign in group nine with a 13-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6 win over Egypt’s Mohamed Elsobky but failed to progress after losing to Russia’s Alexey Liventsov 11-7, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 to exit the singles event.

Winner of the Lagos Table Tennis International Classics, Egypt’s Omar Assar could not advance to the main draw after a narrow loss to Singapore’s Zhaoxu Xin in an encounter that ended 11-9, 5-11, 11-4, 9-11, 7-11, 11-5, 9-11 having recorded a 4-2 win over Korea’s Chan-Hyeok Park in his first group match.

The only African player flying in the men’s singles is Egypt’s Ahmed Saleh, who won his two matches to seal a place in the last 64.

Speaking after his exit, Quadri admitted that he played well but that his opponent was more tactical in his approach to the game.

“Nothing went wrong during the match because I played better than  the first game that I won. I want to say that there was so much difference when compared to my performance in this same tour three years  ago. My opponent did not win an easy point. Before I used to have  difficult in receiving service but this year I was able to overcome  this. I hope to do better at the Qatar Open next week,” Quadri said.

The Nigerian representatives will be hoping for a better outing in the men’s doubles.

Mixed Fortunes for Nigerian Players at Kuwait ITTF World Tour

Nigerian players at the ongoing International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour, tagged Kuwait Open started their campaigns on mixed fortunes.

Aruna Quadri recorded an emphatic 4-0 win over Egypt’s Mohamed Elsobky, while Kazeem Makanjuola lost by the same score line to Frenchman Benjamin Brossier.

Quadri who played in Group Nine didn’t find his rhythm at the beginning against the Southpaw Egyptian, but eventually won the first game at 13-11. The next three games went in his favour at 11-8, 11-8, 11-6 to record an impressive 4-0 win.

To decide the winner of the group, next opponent for the Nigerian is Russia’s Alexey Liventsov, and if the Portugal-based player wins the match that will be played on Thursday, February 13, he will progress to the main draw.

On the other side, things did not go as planned for his compatriot, Makanjuola, who is making his debut in an ITTF World Tour losing 5-11, 9-11, 8-11, 5-11 to his French opponent. His last group match will be against Portugal’s Joao Monteiro.

The winner of the 32 groups in the qualifiers will advance to the main draw to confront the top 32 seeded players. The players are looking to obtain World Tour Series Standings points to qualify for the $1m World Tour Grand Final to be held later in the year.

For Quadri, the victory against the Egyptian would surely motivate him against his next opponent.

“I did not play like I expected before the match. I won, but I was not on top of my game. The reason is just that it has been so long I took part in an international tournament. I was expecting a tougher challenge from the Egyptian but I was fortunate because he did not play well also,” he said.

The Kuwait Open is a super series event on the ITTF World Tour, which is the top of the three tiers (super, major and challenge). Six gold medals will be at stake – men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, men’s U-21 singles and women’s U-21 singles.

The Kuwait Open is the first Super Series event of 2014 and second World Tour event of the year after the Hungarian Open, which was a challenge series event.