August 21, 2017

Toriola savours Nigeria’s victory in Morocco

SEVEN-TIME Olympian, Segun Toriola has expressed joy over Nigeria’s victory in the men’s doubles of the just-ended ITTF Africa Senior Championships in Agadir, Morocco.

Last weekend in Morocco, the duo of Toriola and Aruna Quadri, against all odds, silenced the Egyptian duo of El-Sayed Lashin and Ahmed Saleh 4-2 to retain the title Nigeria won last year through the pair of Quadri and Kazeem Makanjuola.

“For us, winning this title is very good because I had said earlier that it is a must for us to win this doubles title. But I must also tell you that it was not an easy match because the match was strange to us in all departments.

“Also our opponents are very experienced players and clever, so we are so excited claiming the first gold medal for Nigeria in this competition,” an elated Toriola, who became the first African to participate in seven Olympics after his appearance at Rio 2016 told

Quadri, however, lost in the final of the men’s singles decided on Sunday to Egyptian Omar Assar as the epic match ended in 10-12, 11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-9.

Assar, who retained his African title said playing Quadri who became the first African to play in the quarter-final of the Olympics was always challenging.

“It was really a crazy match because against Quadri, it is always very exciting. I gave my 100 per cent concentration and I was listening more to my coach, Ashraf Helmy. I think Aruna played very well because he was always changing service and he was more aggressive on his forehand. I am so happy retaining the title and I hope I can play better than this in future tournaments,” Assar said.

The consolation for Nigeria also on the final day came through the heroics of Funke Oshonaike who stunned another Egyptian, Dina Meshref in the women’s singles final to reclaim the African title she first won in 1992.

Oshonaike, 41, and six-time Olympian reclaimed the title on 11-7, 13-11, 5-11, 9-11,

11-7, 11-7.

Meanwhile, the rivalry between Nigeria and Egypt will be renewed at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Hybiome Austrian Open, to be held from November 9 to 13 in Linz, Austria.