In less than four days after setting an African record as the first player to reach the quarter-final stage at the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships, Quadri Aruna has set another African record following the release of the latest ITTF ranking on Tuesday, November 30.
The Nigerian was ranked 17 in the world before the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships held in Houston, Texas, in the United States, and based on the feat in Houston, Aruna gained four steps up in the ranking to be rated 13th in the ITTF ranking being the first by an African.
Being the biggest movers among the top 20 players in the world, Aruna has continued to raise the bar for other African players to emulate with his superlative performance at major competitions which has also earned him a place among the top 20 players invited for the 2021 World Table Tennis (WTTF) Cup Finals scheduled for December 4 to 7 in Singapore.
An excited Aruna said after the ranking was released it meant more work for him.
“I am so excited to improve my world ranking, and this means I must work hard to remain on top in the world. This is another task I must face in my career, and I will not relent to do my best as I look forward to the WTTF Cup Finals taking place this weekend in Singapore.”
For the President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) Ishaku Tikon, the latest feat achieved by Aruna would surely motivate other upcoming players to work harder. “We are so excited that within one week, Aruna has set two African records as the first to reach the quarterfinal of the World Championships as well as the first African to be ranked 13th in the world. This for us as a federation means we must find another Aruna who can exceed what he has done. Our focus remains on the cadet and junior and we are going to ensure we organize tournaments and expose them to international competitions. I must also commend Aruna for his conduct within and outside the table because he has shown to be a good ambassador of the sport and we hope to complement this feat by ensuring we unearth more Arunas,” Tikon said.
2021 World Championships runner’s Truls Moregard of Sweden has become the biggest mover on the latest ITTF ranking as the 19-year-old moved from 77th spot to 31st in the ranking, while newly crowned world champion Fan Zhendong of China held on to the top spot in the ranking.
Following the feat achieved by Quadri Aruna at the 2021 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships held in Houston, Texas, the United States, the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) has described the Nigerian as a trailblazer in table tennis.
Aruna has continued to exceed expectations with his performance at major international competitions and this was also displayed in Houston when he became the first Nigerian and African to make it to the quarter-final stage in the history of the world championships.
The Nigerian was named the World Table Tennis Player in 2014, later became the first African to reach the quarter-final stage at the Olympic Games and ITTF World Cup, and in Houston, he set a new African record as the first African player to make it to the last eight in the history of the ITTF World Championships.
The 33-year-old two-time Nigeria Open champion has been hailed for his conduct on and off the table during the Houston tournament which put the continent on the world table tennis map.
Speaking through its President, Khaled El-Salhy, ATTF said Aruna has continually broken the barrier for African players with his outstanding performance that has continued to inspire a lot of players across the globe.
“I am so proud of the super performance of Quadri Aruna here in 2021 WTTC – Houston. He is always breaking the records. And as one of the top African players participating in the World Championships, he reached the Quarter Final stage for the first time by any player from Africa. He is always working hard to improve himself and he has the quality to compete against world top stars in any major competition,” he said.
He added: “Aruna is a table tennis icon for Africa and a good role model to all our young players to emulate.”
Apart from Aruna’s feat, the ATTF boss described the city of Houston as a historic place for Africa with the elections of two African representatives – Wahid Oshodi of Nigeria and Alaa Meshref of Egypt as Executive Vice Presidents of ITTF. “Houston will remain a historical WTTC event for Africa after the great achievement at the AGM where Africa secured two slots in the ITTF Executive Committee (EC) and this was followed by the excellent result achieved by Quadri Aruna after reaching the quarter-final as the first African player.”
The city of Houston stood still for Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna on Friday, November 26, after the Nigerian became the first African to reach the quarterfinal in the history of the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals.
The Nigerian made his presence felt amidst the array of stars competing at the 2021 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals staged at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, United States.
Earlier on Thursday, Aruna had beaten the round of 32 records set in 2019 by Egypt’s duo of Omar Assar and Ahmed Saleh after he breezed into the round of 16. But late on Friday, November 26, he erased the record to set another one with a place in the quarterfinal of the championships.
The 2014 ITTF World Player of Year became the first Nigerian and player from the Africa continent to feature in the last eight at the World Table Tennis Championship after he defeated Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson 4-3 (11-9, 5-11, 13-11, 5-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6).
“It’s amazing. I had to dig deep and I gave everything I had. I’m excited about the quarter-final. I’ve been playing very well and the spirit of never giving up is always there,” said Aruna during a post-match interview.
The Nigerian is expected to confront another Swedish record-breaker Truls Moregard in the quarterfinal late on Saturday, November 27.
According to ITTF, players from Africa, Europe, North America, South America, and Asia are expected to continue lighting up the historical event which is being hosted in the Americas for the first time in its storied history.
While the Asian and European players have not disappointed with their stellar performances, their challenges on the international stage are now continuously being challenged by emerging powerhouses from the rest of the world, making table tennis a genuinely global sport.
African table tennis continues to shine brightly after Aruna’s historic passage to the last eight at the World Table Tennis Championship. “It means a lot to me,” he said, “especially for Nigeria and the whole of Africa. Table tennis is growing very fast in Africa. Now we have several players in the Top 100,” said Aruna.
American Kanak Jha also proved he could match up to anyone on his day. The 21-year-old American is part of the new generation of up-and-coming stars destined to light up the competition in the table tennis world. He is the first man American player to reach this stage since 1959.
Although fellow Pan-American Adriana Diaz did not qualify for the quarterfinals, she achieved her best result during this World Championships by reaching the round of 16. The first female table tennis player to represent Puerto Rico on the Olympic stage hopes many will follow her path. “I want to move the sport forward, make more people play, and bring even more people to my sport,” she said after her match.
Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, who won his first international title at WTT Star Contender Doha in September and currently ranks number four, becomes the first-ever Brazilian to reach the quarterfinals.
While this year’s World Championships quarterfinals truly showcase the universality of table tennis, the ITTF will do its utmost to foster new initiatives and ultimately grow the sport worldwide.
Quadri Aruna set African record at World Championships
In his usual style, Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna has again set a new African record at the 2021 ITTF World Championships taking place in Houston, Texas, United States after the former ITTF World Player of the Year qualified to the round of 16 of the Men’s Singles as the first African to achieve the feat.
It was Egypt’s Omar Assar and Ahmed Saleh that had the best record at the global tournament in Africa has made it to the round of 32 but with the performance of Nigeria in Houston, and the only African still competing in the Men’s Singles, Aruna inked new record after passing a litmus test against Indian Sathiyan Gnanasekaran.
Aruna earned his ticket to the Round of 16 following a breathtaking clash with the clever Indian star. Aruna and his opponent put everything into the encounter by exchanging explosive rallies throughout the contest.
Twice Gnanasekaran led, but the Nigerian caught up with and it was Aruna’s heart and desire that proved the difference in truly dramatic fashion. The 4-3 (11-9, 7-11, 13-15, 11-3, 4-11, 11-9, 11-7) win has again put Aruna on the history lane as the first African to reach the last 16 stages at the World Championships exceeding Egypt’s Omar Assar’s last 32 feats in 2019.
On Friday, November 26, the Nigerian will face Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson for a place in the last eight (quarterfinal) of the championships. In continuation of what happened on Day Two, fourth seed Chinese Taipei superstar Lin Yun-Ju crashed out of the Men’s Singles draw following a pulsating head-to-head against Republic of Korea’s Lim Jonghoon.
Lin Yun-Ju ranked 55 positions higher than his opponent in the world entered the tie as the clear favorite but never really got going on table four.
Trailing 2-0 and then 3-1, fourth seed Lin courageously recovered back-to-back games to level the score at 3-3. Lin then held a match point opportunity in the deciding game, but it was Lim Jonghoon who threw his arms in the air in celebration at the end of the match to win 4-3 (11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 6-11, 8-11, 13-11).
The Secretary-General of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Olabanji Oladapo has been reelected into the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Board of Directors (BoD) at the end of the annual general meeting (AGM) of the world body in Houston, Texas, United States.
Also, the President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Engr Ishaku Tikon, and NTTF Board member, CP Elderson Bankole have been appointed to the veteran and para commissions of ITTF.
Earlier, in the year at the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) held through virtual, Oladapo topped the list of eight candidates from Africa listed for ITTF BoD.
However, after the election of Executive Vice Presidents which produced Nigeria’s Wahid Enitan Oshodi as the candidate with the highest votes among the eight elected VP, the reelection of Oladapo and 31 others were ratified and confirmed by the Executive Committee (EC) of the world table tennis ruling body.
Tikon and Bankole nomination into the veterans and para commissions was confirmed at the end of the AGM late on Wednesday, November 24 by ITTF.
Tikon and Bankole with this appointment have become full members of the commissions and are expected to take an active part in their decision of the commissions.
Meanwhile, the President of ATTF, Khaled El-Salhy has hailed the election of Oshodi and Alaa Meshref of Egypt as Executive Vice Presidents of ITTF being a feat by the continent.
“It is a very honorable day for the Africa Table Tennis family, today Wednesday, November 24, 2021, as the continent got two slots in the highest ruling arm of ITTF Executive Committee for the first time in its history. Congratulations for Wahid Oshodi and Alaa Meshref and congratulations for the whole family of Table Tennis in our continent,” the ATTF chief said.
He added: “This is the second time in a row to show to everybody what Africa could achieve when it is united and fully supporting our representatives; as the first time was last year when we succeeded to support South Africa to win the bid to host 2023 WTTC in Durban, and this year to win two representatives of Africa in ITTF EC. I have to say frankly, it is time now for Africa to continue the road of success in the future.”
Nigeria’s Oshodi elected as ITTF Vice President in US
Nigeria’s Wahid Enitan Oshodi has been elected as the Executive Vice President of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Wednesday, November 24 in Houston, Texas, in the United States.
From the 136 votes cast, Oshodi polled 116 which is 85.29% of the total vote to emerge top among the 14 candidates that vie for the office of the Executive Vice Presidents.
Oshodi is the second Nigerian to be elected to the world body after Segun George and he will serve along with seven other Executive Vice Presidents elected at the AGM.
Sweden’s Petra Sorling became the first woman to be elected as President of ITTF. She clinched the office of the 95-year-old international federation unopposed having been nominated by the Swedish Table Tennis Association and accepted by all the 226 member associations across the world.
Egypt’s Alaa Meshref was reelected into the Executive Committee (EC) of ITTF. It is the first time Africa will have two representatives in the EC. Other elected Vice Presidents are Graham SYMONS (AUS), Alaor AZEVEDO (BRA), LIU Guoliang (CHN), Roland NATRAN (HUN), Masahiro MAEHARA (JPN), and Khalil AL-MOHANNADI (QAT)
The new president of the ITTF and the eight elected Vice Presidents will join the ITTF Athletes Commission Chair Zoran Primorac of Croatia and IOC Member Ryu Seungmin of Korea Republic to form the complete ITTF Executive Committee (EC).
From his humble start as Chairman, Lagos State Table Tennis Association (LSSTA), and following his exceptional performance in that post, Oshodi was appointed Commissioner for Sports in Lagos State under Governor Babatunde Fashola (2011-2015). He also served as the President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) from 2013-2017 and was later appointed as the Chairman of the Nomination Committee of ITTF.
Earlier this year, Oshodi was elected as the Deputy President of the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF). He is an engineer and a lawyer.
Fatimo Bello retains ladies’ title as Akanbi claims men’s singles crown.
FOR the second time and in a row, Fatimo Bello of Nigeria retained her Women’s Singles title after beating compatriot Aminat Fashola 4-2 in the final of the ITTF Africa Western Region Championships concluded in Lagos on Thursday, 4 November 2021.
Also, a new champion emerged in the Men’s Singles after Rilwan Akanbi dazed his countryman and tournament’s favorite, Azeez Solanke, to become the Men’s Singles regional champion.
Bello, who won the maiden edition of the championships in Abidjan in 2019, was unbeaten in the singles event and completed her good run with a convincing 4-0 (11-9, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9) win over Fashola.
In the entertaining Men’s final, Akanbi’s calmness paid off as he triumphed over Solanke 4-3 (7-11, 11-3, 6-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-4, 11-8).
Nigeria dominated the four-day event ahead of participating teams from Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Togo, and the Benin Republic.
Nigeria’s dominance started in the team event with the host claiming the men and women titles in the team.
In the team event, Nigeria defeated Ghana to clinch the Men’s Doubles title after Amadi Umeh and Orok Etim came from 2-0 down to beat Ghana’s Derek Abrefa and Emmanuel Commey 3- 2 (4-11, 10-12, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7).
The Nigerian duo of Bello and Bose Odusanya won the Women’s Doubles event by beating their compatriots, Hope Uduak and Vivian Oku, 3-1 (11- 8, 7-11, 11-3, 11-9).
An elated Secretary-General, ITTF Africa Western Region, Germain Karou, observed that the tournament had been a huge success considering the quality of organization and play during the four-day event.
“I am impressed with what Nigeria has put up, particularly the standard of play from the players. We hope and believe Nigeria will continue to lead the region so that others can come up and compete favorably with them at continental and global levels,” Karou said.
Nigeria rules mixed doubles as singles events take center stage.
CONTINENTAL table tennis powerhouse, Nigeria, lived up to the billings on Day Two of the second ITTF Africa Western Africa Region Championships as the country claimed the mixed doubles event on Tuesday in Lagos, Nigeria.
Nigeria’s class in the mixed doubles was beyond doubt as four of the country’s pairs made it to the semifinal of the event, the final of which the duo of Azeez Solanke and Fatimo Bello won.
To be crowned champions, Solanke and Fatimo triumphed over Orok Etim and Vivian Oku with a commanding 3-0 (11-9, 11-5, 11-5) win.
In the third-place match involving another Nigerian pair, Rilwan Akanbi, and Bose Odusanya, the duo beat Amadi Umeh and Hope Uduak 3 2.
Meanwhile, with the conclusion of the team and doubles events, all eyes are now on the singles events as challengers aim to dethrone Oba Oba Kizito of Cote d’Ivoire and Fatimo Bello of Nigeria who is the defending champions in the male and female singles categories, respectively.
Top seed Kizito is optimistic that he can weather the storm in Lagos to retain his title. Although Kizito had tasted defeat in the team event, the Ivorien is battle-ready for the singles. He said: “I am here to retain my title and from the look of things, it might look taxing for me this year because we have some good players, especially from Nigeria. But having watched most of the players, I am sure I can repeat my winning performance again in Lagos.”
According to the format of the singles events, players have been drawn into groups with the top ones advancing to the knockout stage scheduled for Wednesday, November 3. The second ITTF Africa Western Africa Region Championships are taking place at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere Lagos, Nigeria.
I can see that Nigerian players are very skillful and respectful at the table. This is one thing I think I have gained from them. Apart from that, I am here to have fun in Lagos, which is one of the most populous cities in the world
BLESSING Labanti and EmmanuellaYaa-Kyere are in the Ghanaian team at the ongoing ITTF Africa Western Region Championships.
It is the teenagers’ first trip outside the shores of their home country, Ghana. Understandably, therefore they are over the moon at their maiden inter-national experience at an ITTF regional tournament.
Labanti, a junior class two student of Arise International School, Accra Ghana, said this first voyage to Lagos would remain with her for a long time to come.
Despite her inability to compete favorably with some of the experienced players in the tournament, the 14-year-old said: “I am here to garner experience and learn from the older players. I started playing table tennis only six months ago. Since then I have been working hard to improve with each competition.
“My coming to Lagos is an experience I will cherish for life. I have been reading about Lagos but now I am here. It is my first time traveling out of Ghana. I am really impressed with what I have seen so far in Lagos, especially the hospitality of the people. Since we arrived in Lagos, we have been meeting wonderful people who are willing to help us at all times. I hope I can make use of the few days we have left to tour the city. It is indeed a warm city,” she said.
For a 13-year-old aa-Kyere, coming to Lagos has been an eye-opener in terms of picking up new skills in table tennis. Her words: “I am really happy to be part of this tournament because this is my first time playing in an international competition as well as traveling outside Ghana.
“I can see that Nigerian players are very skillful and respectful on the table. This is one thing I think I have gained from them. Apart from that, I am here to have fun in Lagos, which is one of the most populous cities of the world,” she said.
Opportunity favors the prepared mind, in this post, I would outline a few tips I use before a table tennis championship.
Fitness: To perform at the highest level, a player needs to be physically fit. A player should engage in exercises relevant to table tennis. Footwork exercises designed to improve the efficiency, speed and fitness of the player should be practiced. Being fit as a player reduces the risk of injuries and prolongs the career of the player.
Rest and Sound Mind: To perform at an optimum level a player needs an ample amount of rest. The body is allowed to adapt to the stress associated with exercise, replenishes muscle glycogen (energy stores), and provides time for the body tissue to repair. Sound mind provides clarity of thought needed for sound decision making. A player with a sound mind is able to analyze the conditions during a game. Such a player is motivated and is only limited by his own abilities.
Training and Strokes : The quality of one’s game depends on the strokes played. Constant practice of the strokes would sharpen the skill of the player thereby increasing chances of winning. A player needs to work on all the strokes required during a match, such as topspins, chops, flicks, shorts, blocks, drives ETC. The aim is to attain perfection in these strokes if possible or a decent level of skill required to play competitively. A decent level of skill enables consistent play during matches, thereby reducing the number of unforced errors.
Equipment and Venue: Players if possible need to travel in advance to tournaments. The equipment used for a given tournament would not be the exact equipment used by the player in training. Arriving early provides the opportunity to understand the playing conditions. This comes at an extra cost to the player and the team, however, the satisfaction of victory would compensate.
Game Tactic: The most important thing is the game itself. A player needs to understand the opponent. Before the tournament the draw for the event would be published, this provides the player a clear indication of his or her opponent. If there are videos of the opponent, it is imperative the player watches in other to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and decision-making of the opponent. The knowledge gained during the video analysis can then be incorporated into game tactics. For instance, during the video analysis, if a weakness is identified in the opponent, a game strategy or tactics should be adopted to exploit the weakness. Also, the strengths of the opponent need to be appreciated and respected. This enables the player not to be surprised when the opponent executes a given stroke. Not being surprised means the player could adequately prepare for the stroke should it be used during the match.
Coaching: The technical abilities of a player’s bench impacts the performance. Coaching entails the following : i. Dialog – The coach or trainer should have a good working relationship with the player. This encourages frank and respectful conversation about the player’s game. ii. SWOT Analysis – The coach needs to know the competencies of the player. This enables the coach to craft game tactics suitable to the skill set of the player and at the same time difficult for the opponent. Appreciation of the skills of the opponent enables the coach to caution the player about his or her decision-making. A coach who appreciates that an opponent has a strong forehand cautions his or her player, not to place balls that could easily be attacked, to the forehand of the opponent. iii. Game Stages– It is the responsibility of the coach to alert the player from the bench, the crucial nature of a given point. When the game is getting to an end a player needs not to lose his or her serve. Depending on the experience of the player the coach needs to reiterate this point. It is also at this stage that the coach would remind the player of the weaknesses of the opponent in order for the player to exploit.
I know there are many more tips used by players and coaches around the world. Kindly share in the comments section.