Tokyo Olympics: Nigeria’s Aruna Makes Top 15 Table Tennis Seeding

File photo of Aruna Quadri in action.

 

Team Nigeria Captain for the Tokyo Olympics, Quadri Aruna has been listed among the top 15 seeded players in the men’s singles of table tennis event which kicks on Friday, July 23 in Japan.

65 players will compete in the men’s singles and for being the highest-rated African in the world, Aruna has been seeded number 15 behind Frenchman Simon Gauzy.

The Nigerian has been considered as one of the star players to watch out for in table tennis event. He will be hoping to exceed his quarterfinal finish at Rio 2016 in Japan.

Qualified to Tokyo based on his world ranking, Aruna will be awaiting his first-round opponent when the draws hold this week with Egypt’s Omar Assar seeded 28 while Aruna’s compatriot- Olajide Omotayo is seeded 49 in the men’s singles.

In the women’s singles, six-time African champion, Egypt’s Dina Meshref has been seeded 19th while Nigeria’s Offiong Edem is seeded 53 among the 70 athletes competing in the women’s singles event. Record-breaking Olufunke Oshonaike who is making a seventh appearance at the gams is seeded 60th.

Meanwhile, China’s Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng have been unveiled as the top-seeded entries for the men’s and women’s singles categories.

Making his first appearance on the Olympic stage in Tokyo, Fan Zhendong, 24, is bidding to become the sixth Chinese player to take home men’s singles gold. Meanwhile, fellow Fan’s compatriot and defending champion Ma Long, who has been named as the number two seed, attempts to recapture the magic of five years ago as he defends his highly sought-after title at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

Seeded third, 18-year-old Tomokazu Harimoto is bound to catch the eye as the ever-improving teenager looks to guide Japan to a historic first gold medal in the category.

Also, Brazil’s Hugo Calderano and Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju have been named the fourth and fifth seeds in the men’s singles draw, ahead of Sweden’s Mattias Falck, London 2012 bronze medallist Dimitrij Ovtcharov and fellow German icon Timo Boll.

A new women’s singles champion will be crowned in the Japanese capital with all eyes firmly fixed on two Chinese debutants as the country looks to make it nine gold medals in a row. Making the summit of the list, top seed Chen Meng leads the way with Sun Yingsha occupying the immediate position below on the list. China also leads the way in both the Men’s Team and Women’s Team events with the sporting powerhouse pursuing a fourth-straight gold medal finish in both categories.

Women’s Table Tennis Champion Liu Shiwen Left Out Of Olympics Singles

Photo Credit: Titan Sports Plus

 

Table tennis world champion Liu Shiwen has been controversially left out of China’s women’s singles line-up for the Tokyo Olympics and will instead play doubles and team events.

The 30-year-old won a team title as China swept all four gold medals at the Rio 2016 Games, but she has never won the Olympic singles crown in her trophy-laden career.

China announced a six-member squad on Sunday, with reigning Olympic champion Ma Long and world number one Fan Zhendong the two men’s singles players.

Liu, crowned singles world champion in 2019, will play the mixed doubles and women’s team events. World number one Chen Meng and Sun Yingsha were named for the women’s singles.

“There are too many unsure things and challenges, and we need a squad full of experience and confidence, adding to top-class individual skills,” Xinhua news agency quoted Liu Guoliang, president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, as saying.

The omission of Liu, a former number one who is now seventh in the world, from the singles sparked heated discussion on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, with one hashtag on the subject racking up nearly 300 million views.

China are supreme in Olympic table tennis, winning 28 out of the 32 golds awarded so far.

The coronavirus-postponed 2020 Olympics will take place from July 23 to August 8.

National Table Tennis Championships Serves Off May 18

A file photo of table tennis bats and eggs.

 

The 2021 Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) National Championships will serve off from May 18 to 22 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.

The tournament which provides a good platform to test the home-based players will be contested by states and clubs across the country in 12 events, including veterans who are above 50 years.

One of Africa’s longest-serving referees, John Peters, has also been named as the tournament referee while ITTF-certified Competition Manager, Segun Peters, will handle the draw proceedings at the tournament.

Players are expected to compete for the top prize in team (men and women), singles (men and women), doubles (men and women), doubles U-21 (men and women), cadet (boys and girls), and veterans singles above 50.

NTTF Technical Director, Adesoji Tayo, said the tournament would help to unearth new talents following the exploits of some junior players at the 20th National Sports Festival tagged Edo 2020.

“We are excited that new players are coming on board, particularly with what happened in Edo where Amadi Omeh who, beyond all expectations, emerged as the new National Sports Festival Champion and who could have imagined that such a player who recently graduated from junior to senior would defeat some of the established players to win the tournament?

“This has again shown us that with more competitions like this, we can see more several players coming through to upstage the established ones,” said Tayo who is also the director of the tournament.

He added, “We also want to use the tournament to re-enact the atmosphere synonymous with the Nigeria Open which was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we hope to bring back the atmosphere with this tournament as players across the countries are expected to be part of the five-day event with mouth-watering prize money.”

The tournament director confirmed that the U-21 and cadet events have been included in the national championships to enable upcoming players showcase their talents against their counterparts, saying technical officials would be on the ground to identify talents that would form the bulk of the national junior team.

Also, world’s number one U-11 cadet player, Musa Mustapha, and his brother, Mustapha Mustapha, would be in Lagos for the tournament.

The Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC) has expressed its readiness to host the tournament as table tennis is one of the sports with a good following in the state.

Paralympians Dominate 2nd Para Table Tennis Open In Lagos

File photo

 

Six para table tennis players who have booked their places at the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics Games showed their quality to emerge champions at the 2nd edition of the Valuejet Para Table Tennis Open at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.

From the experienced Paralympians like Tajudeen Agunbiade, Olufemi Ajayi, and Ahmed Koleosho to debutants Isau Ogunkunle, Faith Obazuaye and Victor Farinloye, nobody could match their quality and experience or stop them from clinching the titles in their various classes.

Sydney 2000 Paralympics Games gold medalists, Agunbiade and Alabi dominated class 10 and nine, beating all their opponents to emerge victoriously.

Unlike Agunbiade and Alabi that had to wait the final day to know their fate, Ogunkunle, Obazuaye, Farinloye, and Koleosho were crowned champions in class four, 10, seven, and three a day earlier.

200 players featured in the tournament, some of them were making their debut in the national competition which has an objective of supporting special athletes and developing para table tennis in Nigeria.

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The three-day championship was organised by Sunday Odebode Foundation in collaboration with the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) with support from the Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC).

Faith Obazuaye, a silver medalist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, the tournament has boosted her confidence heading to Tokyo especially coming at a time they are all in the national camp for Tokyo 2021.

“I am so happy that I could compete this year considering what the COVID-19 pandemic has cost the whole world. We could not compete internationally while locally we have not been able to compete. I am happy that the sponsor of this tournament kept faith to bankroll again this year and allowed more players within the country to compete. I am so happy that I am eagerly looking forward to Tokyo 2021 in Japan,” she said.

The Technical Director of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Adesoji Tayo lauded the sponsors for deciding to support the tournament this year amidst the pandemic and urged more corporate bodies to support the para-athletes and develop the sport in the country.

Para Table Tennis Open To Serve Off Dec 19

Caption: Paralympian Ahmed Koleosho competing at last year’s edition in Lagos.

 

The second edition of the annual Valuejet Para Table Tennis Open will serve off on Saturday, December 19 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.

Hundreds of players across the country are already in Lagos for the three-day championship organized by Sunday Odebode Foundation in collaboration with the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF).

The organizers appreciate the support of the sponsor and hope private organisations will emulate the move and provide more support for the development of special sports in the country.

With some of the Paralympians expected to represent Nigeria at Tokyo Paralympic Games already in camp, players outside Lagos have started arriving for the end-of-year championship being the only tournament for para table tennis this year following the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the coordinator of the tournament Sunday Odebode, this year’s edition would be staged nationally with players aiming to be part of the national team eager to be part of the competition.

“Due to COVID-19, we will be staging this year nationally with the hope that new players would emerge this year. There is interest from other African countries to be part of this year’s event but the closure of the border coupled with other factors would not allow them to make it to Nigeria. But we will ensure that we follow the laid-down COVID-19 protocol during the tournament while the social distance would also be maintained,” he said.

Odebode however, said that the tournament is expected to help the players to shape up for the 2021 National Sports Festival holding in Benin City, the Edo State capital while Tokyo-bound Paralympians would also use the tournament as a warm-up to the biggest sporting event in Japan.

He added that 44 events would be competed for by the players while cash prizes would be doled out to the outstanding athletes.

Among the Tokyo-bound Paralympians expected to compete include Isau Ogunkunle and Commonwealth Games silver medalists Faith Obazuaye.

Sydney 2000 Paralympics gold medalists – Tajudeen Agunbiade and Olufemi Alabi will also compete at the tournament.

 

ATTF Insist Quadri Will Be At Tokyo Olympics

 

The African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) is insisting that Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri will feature at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics based on his world rating.

Reacting to speculations over the possibility of an eventual qualification of Africa’s highest-ranked player for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the ATTF President, Khaled El-Salhy said that Quadri’s participation is very important to the Federation.

“For sure the participation of Aruna Quadri in the Olympic Games is very important to ATTF as the top African ranked player and his expected super performance in such special event as he did in the last edition in Rio 2016. Normally he should have qualified in the African Qualification Tournament, unfortunately, he could not continue due to his sudden injury during the 3rd stage of group matches.

“Now the situation is that we have fulfilled two qualification stages (Team Qualification & Continental Qualification), and then ATTF should work hard together with NTTF for the coming stages of qualification,” he added.

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According to ATTF chief, the first qualification for Quadri is to attend the final World Singles Qualifying Tournament which will be held in Qatar on May 28 to 31, with eight top players expected to qualify from the tournament.

However, he said the last option which the Nigerian had met is through the June 2020 ITTF World Ranking with the top 13 players in the world expected to get their qualification through their world rating.

For the Olympic Games, El-Salhy said 86 men and 86 women are expected to compete in Tokyo 2020 with each country having two players each in men and women events.

For now, Olajide Omotayo remains the only Nigerian that has qualified as Nigeria still has one more slot to be part of the tournament.

“I completely believe that a top player like Aruna Quadri has a very big chance to join the African qualifiers through one of the remaining two stages of qualification due to his ranking and super performance whenever he recovers from his injury soon,” the ATTF boss said.

“I have to admit that Aruna Quadri is a special top player in Africa and with his current ITTF ranking making him among the top 20 while his performance has shown worldwide in all previous World, Olympic, Continental, and sanctioned events during the recent years. I think he cannot afford to miss the Olympic Games this year,” El-Salhy said.

Para Table Tennis Open To Serve Off Tomorrow in Lagos

 

The much-anticipated Para Table Tennis Open will serve off on Thursday, December 19, at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos with hundreds of players aiming to have a share of the N10.8m prize money.

Already, apart from Nigeria, eight African countries are in Lagos for the three-day tournament which ends on Saturday, December 21.

Egypt, South Africa, Algeria, Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin Republic, Togo, and Ghana will compete in the 44 events tournament for players in class 1 to 10.

Hundreds of players will compete in singles, team and doubles events.

Five Nigerians have qualified in the para table tennis event of Tokyo 2020 and the federation believes staging the championship will aid the discovery of more players for the country.

For Rio 2016 Paralympian, Ahmed Koleosho, the tournament will provide the players the platform to compete against their foreign counterparts, particularly the local players who are yet to compete at higher level of the game.

“I am so excited that we are hosting this kind of competition and I am hoping and believing that we will make Nigeria proud. It will surely give upcoming players the opportunity to compete against their experienced counterparts,” the Tokyo 2020-bound Paralympian said.

President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Ishaku Tikon, said staging the tournament would help players that had already qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games to tune-up for the sports fiesta in Japan next year.

“This is a good development for table tennis in Nigeria and we are grateful to our sponsor – Valuejet for deeming it fit to support the championship,” the NTTF boss said.

“We are excited and we can’t wait for the tournament to kick-off as our aim is to make it a ranking event by 2020 on the ITTF calendar. This is another first from NTTF and we hope our players and visitors will enjoy the warmth of Lagos and Nigeria during the competition.”

According to the project consultant, Sunday Odebode, the aim of the tournament is to expose the players to a world-class tournament, particularly as they are expected to compete against some of the best players in Africa.

Odebody said, “We want to use this competition to develop para table tennis in Nigeria while also promoting the talents of the players.

“We believe this tournament will enhance the sport as well as give us the leverage to stage and be listed among the ITTF tournament in the near future. Our players will also be exposed to competition among themselves and other players coming to Nigeria for the championship.”

Two days ago, an ITTF classifier, Elsayed Mehrem arrived in Lagos to classify some of the Nigerian players to their various classes.

ITTF Commends Nigeria Open

 

 

 

Impressed by the world-class organisation of the event and the huge followership the annual ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open commands globally, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has described the tournament as a model for others.

At the press briefing to herald the tournament in Lagos, Executive Vice President, ITTF, Dr Alaa Meshref, said upgrading the tournament to Challenge Plus was done as a result of its global acceptance by players.

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“We are happy to have a tournament with the fans coming to watch and this has improved with more players eager to come to Nigeria,” the ITTF chief said

He commended the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) and the Lagos State Government for their commitment to table tennis, while hoping that the tournament would continue to set example for others.

Meshref said: “We are excited with what is happening in Nigeria when it comes to table tennis and we are thrilled by the commitment of those involved in the organisation of this championship. We believe that in no distant time, the tournament will rival others in Europe and Asia in terms of prize money. We must commend the NTTF and Lagos State Government for what they are doing to the sport. ITTF will continue to support this tournament. It is a model for others in the world.”

For the president of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation, Engr. Ishaku Tikon, the tournament has continued to set new records with over 32 nations competing this year. “We are grateful to our sponsors and we want to thank the sports-loving governor of Lagos State for his commitment to the tournament. I welcome every player to Nigeria this year,” the NTTF chief said.

Aruna Quadri Thanks Fans After Nigeria Open Victory

Aruna Quadri Thanks Fans After Nigeria Open Victory
Nigerian table tennis star and winner of the Men’s Singles of 2018 ITTF Nigeria Open, Quadri Aruna. with the runner-up, Hachard Antoine from France (right), during the closing ceremony of the tournament at the Sir Molade Okoya-Thomas Indoor Sports Hall, Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos on August 12, 2018.

 

Nigerian table tennis star Aruna Quadri has thanked the fans who supported him to win the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Nigeria Open 2018.

The world’s no 18 won the tournament on Sunday after defeating his opponent from France, Harchard Antoine, at the Molade Okoya Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere area of Lagos.

“If not for my fans that supported me all the way, this victory would not have been possible and so, I want to thank the people for standing by me,” he said.

Quadri, who is the first Nigerian to win the ITTF, claimed a $5,000 prize and another $200 courtesy of the fair play award which was awarded to him.

Similarly, the best Nigerian home-grown player of the tournament, Jamiu Anyawale, was rewarded with a cash gift of $200.

Antonie, who is from France, was rewarded with $2,500 for emerging as the first runner-up of the men’s singles, while Guo Yan from China went home with $5,000 for winning the women’s singles.

Yan’s fellow compatriot, Sun Chen, was also awarded $2,500 for emerging as the first runner-up of the women’s singles.

Meanwhile, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has congratulated Quadri on his emergence as the first Nigerian to win the competition.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna, Governor Ambode assured table tennis fans that the state government would support the tournament in a bigger edition in 2019.

He said, “This is a major improvement from last year’s competition and again for the very first time in the last six years, we found a Nigerian winning the men’s singles and this brings a lot of excitement for me because I have been supporting table tennis and I know that next year’s tournament will be more exciting than this.”

“As a government, we are going to put more support; we put more financial support so that we can attract more people and also encourage more Nigerians to participate.

“You know we actually gave bonus to Nigerians that have qualified and that is also to encourage more of our own local players to compete internationally,” the governor added.

Kerber Out Of Birmingham, Vows To Fight To Be Fit For Wimbledon

World number one, Angelique Kerber has suffered a pre-Wimbledon injury scare, pulling out of this week’s Aegon Classic at Edgbaston due to a recurrence of a hamstring problem.

The German is also unsure whether she will be able to play at Eastbourne next week due to problems with the left hamstring strain which forced her to retire during her third-round match in Madrid.

Kerber had a disappointing clay court season and went out in the first round at the French Open. She said the injury flared up again when she returned to the courts last week.

Kerber is the latest big name to have pulled out of the Aegon Classic following Simona Halep’s withdrawal with an ankle complaint.

Kerber is chasing an elusive first title this year after failing to get past the third round in her last five tournaments.

The 29-year-old has struggled to impose herself in recent months and her only appearance in a final this year was at the Abierto GNP Seguros competition at Monterrey in April, where she lost to Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The Eastbourne International tournament begins on June 25 with Wimbledon getting under way a week later.

Nigeria, Egypt Seeded for ITTF World Championships Doubles Event

ITTFAfrica’s super powers – Nigeria and Egypt – confirmed their superiority on the continent as the two nations have been included in the seeding list of the doubles event of the 2017 International Table Tennis Federation World Championships taking place in Dusseldorf, Germany.

In the seeding list released by the table tennis ruling body, events like 2015 World Championships, 2016 ITTF – European Championships, 2016 ITTF – Oceania Championships, 2017 ITTF – Asian Championships, 2016 ITTF – African Championships and 2016 ITTF – Latin American Championships count for the doubles seeding for 2017 World Championships.

In the 32 pairs seeded in the men’s doubles, Nigeria’s duo of Aruna Quadri and Olajide Omotayo are the Africa’s highest ranked men’s doubles, occupying 22 while Egypt’s El-Sayed Lashin and Ahmed Saleh are seeded 26th.

In the women’s doubles seeding, Africa champion – Egypt’s Yousra Helmy and Dina Meshref are rated 19 while Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike and Cameroun’s Sarah Hanffou are 32nd in the seeding list.

Unlike in the men and women doubles which have players from Nigeria and Egypt, in the mixed doubles, three African teams were seeded.

African mixed doubles champion – Egypt’s Omar Assar and Dina Meshref are seeded 12 while Nigeria’s Segun Toriola and Olufunke Oshonaike are rated 18 with Egypt’s duo of Mohamed El-Beali and Yousra Helmy are 22 with the Algeria’s duo of Sami Kherouf and Lynda Loghraibi rated 32 in the seeding list.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima are named as the top seeds in the Men’s Doubles event at the 2017 World Championships which commence on Monday May 29 in Dusseldorf.

In the Women’s Doubles event, the pairing at the top of the list is that of Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm and Hungary’s Georgina Pota; for the Mixed Doubles it is Korea’s Lee Sangsu and Yang Haeun.

However, whether the top seeds prevail or not, new pairings will be crowned; no pair in any of the three disciplines has ever been crowned World champion, most unusually, no pair is defending the title won two years ago in Suzhou.

At the 2015 World Championships, China’s Xu Xin partnered colleague Zhang JIke to Men’s Doubles gold, after having earlier clinched the Mixed Doubles title in harness with Korea’s Yang Haeun. In the Women’s Doubles event, Liu Shiwen and Zhu Yuling reserved the top step of the podium.

Now in 2017, the name of Zhang Jike does not appear on the Men’s Doubles entry list, nor does that of Xu Xin on the Mixed Doubles line-up. In the Men’s Doubles event Xu Xin partners Fan Zhendong; in the Mixed Doubles Yang Haeun is in harness with Lee Sangsu.

Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin occupy the no.3 seeded position behind the combination of Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Denmark’s Jonathan Groth; Korea’s Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu reserve the no.4 seed spot.

In the Mixed Doubles, next in line to Lee Sangsu and Yang Haeun is the Hong Kong pairing of Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem. Sweden’s Mattias Karlsson and Matilda Ekholm are listed in the no.3 spot pursued by a second Hong Kong partnership of Ho Kwan Kit and Lee Ho Ching.

In the Women’s Doubles the names of both Liu Shiwen and Zhu Yuling appear but with different Chinese partners. Liu Shiwen joins forces with Ding Ning, Zhu Yuling partners Chen Meng.

Cheng Meng and Zhu Yuling are the no.3 seeds, one place behind Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching; Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen are the no.4 seeds.

Accepted there are players on duty who have won doubles titles at World Championships but they are not with the partner with whom they gained success.

African Table Tennis Federation Honours Segun Toriola

Segun Toriola, Olympic Games, Table TennisThe African Table Tennis Federation has honoured the continent’s most decorated player Segun Toriola at the ITTF Africa senior championships in Morocco.

The African table tennis body is recognising Toriola for putting table tennis on the world map as the first athlete in any sport in Africa to attend seven Olympic games.

The ITTF President, Khaled El-Salhy believes Toriola has what it takes to break his own record by making it to Tokyo 2020.

Mr El-Salhy also commended the player for being an inspiration to young players in Africa with his 100% commitment to the sport on and off the court.

Meanwhile, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has confirmed Nigeria’s men’s team have qualified for the 2018 world team championships holding in Sweden.

Egypt and Nigeria qualified based on their performance at the 2016 World Team Championships held in Malaysia in which they finished among the top 36 countries in the world.

Togo also secured its place after finishing second in the fourth division at the World Team Championship in Malaysia.

Others are Algeria, Congo Brazzaville, Tunisia, South Africa and Senegal.