ITTF African Championships: Omotayo Hopes to Sustain Momentum from Mauritius

 

After making the semifinal stage of the men’s singles at the last ITTF African Championships in Mauritius as an unseeded player, Olajide Omotayo believes he is yet to fulfil his potential.

On his way to the last four, Omotayo humbled tournament’s number three seed – Egypt’s Mohammed El-Beiali 4-1 but the former national junior champion admitted that he would not be carried away by the feat, but continue to work hard to measure up with the standard set by Aruna Quadri and Segun Toriola at the global level.

“As long as I am satisfied with my performance in Mauritius because it has erased the poor outing at the ITTF Nigeria Open. This will also help me to push myself more and work harder now because eyes will now be on me across the world.

“However, I will remain grateful to the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) for believing and giving me the opportunity despite my early exit at Nigeria Open,” he said.

Omotayo who now trains in Germany admitted that playing against Aruna Quadri in the semifinal has also boosted his confidence going into any tournament.

“Apart from the crucial wins I had in Mauritius, I think I have learnt that believing in yourself means a lot because this helped me a lot when I played against the Egyptians and for the first time I had the opportunity to face Aruna Quadri and this will surely help me a lot in boosting my confidence,” he added.

The African championships semifinalist who will be competing at the 2018 Belgium Open later in the year is, however, hoping for sponsors that will help him attend more competitions.

“My next competition is the Belgium Open and now I have the privilege to practice in Germany with a Bundesliga team and I strongly believe this will help me a lot as they have top-ranked players in the team. I am sure with the help of the coach and players; I will improve in as much as I continue to work hard.

“For now, I’m not getting any support from any corporate body but I am only getting assistance from the former President of NTTF, Wahid Oshodi and may God continue to bless and enrich him,” he said.

He further explained that in the last two years, he has also received support from other individuals but hopes to get more sponsors soon as he goes for tournaments.

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.

Onaolapo, Omotayo Ready for Lagos ITTF World Tour

OMOTAYO-olajideItaly-based duo of Ojo Onaolapo and Olajide Omotayo believe the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour tagged Lagos Open would provide Nigerian players another opportunity to confirm their superiority in the sport.

Onaolapo, who was a member of the Nigerian team at the last ITTF Africa Senior Championships last month, would not want to remember the defeats he suffered to Egypt’s El-Sayed Lashin twice in Cairo, while Omotayo would not want the memory of his poor performance in 2014 to distract him during the 2015 Lagos Open.

Onaolapo, a silver medalist in the men’s doubles event at the Africa Senior Championships is hoping to use the tournament to settle scores with the Egyptians.

“My expectation for this year’s tournament is for me to train hard so that I can perform well in any pro tournament this year.

“It was a bit difficult for me in my first tournament for the year especially with my recent move to Europe. After returning to Europe I have corrected some of the mistakes that I made in Cairo at the Africa Senior Championship,” he said.

According to the Commonwealth Games bronze medalist: “My target is to win the both the U-21 and the men’s singles by God’s grace. I know I had to focus throughout the tournament because there is nothing impossible in table tennis and in life.”

For Onaolapo, the Egyptians would not have their way in Lagos. “I am not seeing the Egyptians as threats to my ambition because losing in Cairo has been forgotten. But I am in good mood to take on any of them and for me to overcome them, I just have to believe in myself because they are beatable,” he said.

As the defending champion of the U-21 event, Onaolapo said he is in form to participate in the Lagos Open as he is hoping for Nigeria’s dominance in the competition.

“I believe I can make good impact in the tournament because I am now 100 percent ready because I started my training after the Cairo tournament. There is no doubt that Nigerian players led by ITTF Star Player, Aruna Quadri can dominate the tournament. But I know the Egyptians are not pushovers so we should not look down on them. Other European players are also going to be tough,” Onaolapo said.

Unlike Onaolapo who has something to show for his efforts in 2014, Omotayo failed to dazzle the Lagos fans after he was bundled out of the tournament early having being considered as the next big thing in Africa table tennis circuit.

“I know that this year’s tournament will be more competitive because the Egyptians are coming with most of their best players and I am optimistic that Nigerian players will give them a run for the title. We are hoping to do what the Egyptian did at the just concluded ITTF Africa Senior Championships,” he said.

He added: “What happened last year has taught me that I must train well and not to rely on my skills alone. But this year, I am ready to put in my best this time around to make my fans, family and the board of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) for what they have done to the game since they have come on board. My main target is to win the U-21 category and I am also targeting a good spot in the men’s singles event.”

With the presence of the current ITTF Star Player, Aruna Quadri and Africa champion, Egypt’s Omar Assar, Omotayo believes they would inspire him to impress.

“I believe I can make an impact at the tournament because I also been looking for an opportunity like this which I think it will trigger me to give my 100 percent participating alongside Quadri, Assar and so many more. For me it is an honour to have the 2014 ITTF male best player in our midst,” Omotayo concluded.

Olajide Starts Preparation For Commonwealth Games

Nigeria table tennis junior champion,  Olajide Omotayo has moved his training base to Italy and Switzerland with  the objectives of winning medals at the 2014  Commonwealth games in Glasgow Scotland.

Omotayo was Nigeria’s best player at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF)-organised World Junior Championships which took place in Rabat, Morocco. He won the Asoju-oba Table Tennis Championship in November and also emerged the junior champion at the Lagos International Table Tennis Classics.

According to the youngster, traveling out of the country would help him improve his skills and play against the best players in the world and also will give him the chance to compete in the inaugural Swiss Premier League, serving off in 2014.

The 2012 National Sports Festival gold medallist said: “I am currently training in Italy while I will be playing the division one league in Switzerland. I would have loved to go to France or Germany instead because they have stronger leagues than the Italian and Switzerland leagues. I chose to play in Switzerland and Italy because I want to start from the scratch, as I may not be able to cope with the players playing in division one in France and Germany for now. Beginning with this will help improve my game so that I can compete very well with top players in major international competitions.”

With his enterprising style of play, coupled with excellent footwork, Omotayo dazzled in Morocco and for him, winning diadems for Nigeria at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games remains one of his priorities in the game.

“I have all it takes to become one of the world’s best because I am still young, having won series of laurels at cadet, junior and senior levels in Nigeria. Even though I would have loved to win more before leaving, I know with God by my side I will make Nigeria proud,” he said.

“I also want to win laurels for Nigeria in events such as Commonwealth, All Africa and Olympics Games. I am also aiming to become the first Nigerian player to win the World Championship and Olympics medals,” he added.

Listing some of the skills he picked up in Morocco, Omotayo said: “I learned a lot of things from the Morocco World Junior Championships, like the different styles and techniques; especially the Asian players because they are so fast, mobile, accurate and strong on the table.”

Omotayo believes that leaving Nigeria for Italy is the best decision he has made this year.

“I feel so happy leaving Nigeria at a tender age and playing abroad for a professional club as this will enable me to be a good player in future because I have all it takes like facilities, equipment as well as a personal coach, which I was lacking while in Nigeria.”