Aruna Quadiri has sensationally sent out shock waves out here in Rio to also shoot himself into history in the Olympics after smashing out world number one and current world number 13, Timo Boll in the Men’s singles Table Tennis event.
With this feat, the 27-year-old Nigerian is now the first ever African Olympic quarterfinalist in the sport of table tennis, making it the perfect birthday gift for ARUNA, who celebrates his 28th birthday today, 9 August.
ARUNA raced to a 3-0 lead and looked like an unstoppable force for most of the match.
A comeback was on the cards as BOLL, who was a favourite for a medal here in Rio, fought back to 3-2, taking the fourth and fifth games in comfortable fashion.
But it was a case of too little too late.
ARUNA held his nerve and used his unique brand of athletic shot making to take the sixth game 11-9 and win the match.
“This is amazing! I don’t know what to say. My fans made me do this. Thank you for all the Brazilian spectators for their support. They gave me so much energy. This feels so good, it is a dream come true that I am in the quarterfinals,” said the world number 40 after his spectacular win.
BOLL, who had the honour of carrying the German flag in the Opening Ceremony, once again had to reflect on an early Olympic exit: “He has surprised a lot of people. I knew he was good coming into the match.
I just have to say well played! His whole game is different, so it took me awhile to work it out. Once I was 0-3 down I started to get more into the match, but it was already too late.”
Just across the arena, world number four Jun MIZUTANI (JPN) ended Hugo CALDERANO (BRA)’s amazing run at Rio 2016 on home soil leaving the sold-out local crowd in huge disappointment.
Close to making the biggest upset in table tennis history to challenge Chinese dominance, Korea Republic’s JEONG Youngsik started his fourth round encounter against the current World Champion MA Long (CHN) with a 2-0 lead, but the world number one was quick to recover from his losses to prevail 4-2.
ARUNA now progresses through to the quarterfinals where he will face MA Long in the Quarterfinals.
The celebrations were palpable as Aruna is set to exorcise the ghost of Nigeria not winning a single medal at the London 2012 Olympics