Lagos – Africa’s table tennis Olympic record holder, Quadri Aruna, has attributed his success in the game to hardwork and support from the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF).
Aruna is one of the three Nigerians currently holding Olympic records at the ongoing Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, having become the first African to reach the quarter-finals of any Olympics.
Others are Segun Toriola who made his seventh appearance at the Rio Games and U.S.-based Chierika Ukogu, who is the first female to represent the country in Olympic water sports.
She is also the first African female to reach the first semi-finals of the rowing event and will compete in the CD1 semi-finals at noon on Friday.
Aruna said on Thursday from Rio that his dedication and focus at training was what made him to be celebrated.
“It hasn’t been an easy journey so far, and I want to thank God, the NTTF and my fans for their continuous support.
“Wahid Enitan-Oshodi has been a father to me and hasn’t ceased to always stand up for me. He has always looked out for my success.
“This is a victory for us all because everyone’s love and support has helped me in getting better.
“To all my fans, teammates, coaches, friends and family, I say thank you for your total support,’’ he said.
The 2014 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Star Player also believed his performance had boosted the chance of African players in their quest to win Olympic medals.
An elated Aruna, who was ousted at the quarter-finals after he lost to world No. 1 player, Chinese Ma Long, said: “The Brazilian spectators are really good singers, supporting everybody.
“I am so happy seeing them singing for me, it’s amazing’’.
Aruna, who played on his birthday, however, admitted the superiority of Chinese superstar.
“Ma Long is so much better, so much faster; everything is just perfect about Ma Long, while his speed was just too much for me.
“ It was not going very well for me and I had a lot more difficulty receiving his service. He was stronger and faster, everything about him is just good,’’ he said.
Aruna expressed the belief that his experience would inspire African players to aim for Olympic medals.
“I believe that it is possible for an African to win Olympic gold medal in table tennis because nothing is impossible.
“I strongly believe there are some upcoming players in Africa, including Omar Assar, and some top Nigerian players could easily match my record with hardwork,’’ he said.
One of the coaches who accompanied Nigerian table tennis players to the Games, Michael Oyebode, described Aruna as a “hero“.
“Although he lost but in my mind, and I also believe in the minds of the entire Nigerian table tennis team to this Rio Olympic Games, we have all won.
“Yes, history has been made, you made us all proud, the entire world stood up to hail you; this is the beginning.
“The struggle continues, we will not stop to focus on our objectives and God will always crown our efforts.
“Well done Aruna, we are all very proud of you.
“I particularly say thank you to all our fans and loved ones for all tour support and above all, I say thank you LORD,’’ Oyebode said.