–Nigeria tackles Kenya, India in table tennis
One of Africa’s most decorated table tennis player, Segun Toriola has been named as captain of Team Nigeria to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Toriola, who is making her fourth appearance at the games having made his first appearance at the 2002 Manchester Games, will be in charge of the 127-man contingent representing at the 11-day multi-sports tournament.
The Director General, National Sports Commission (NSC), Gbenga Elegbeye made the announcement at the Games’ Village in Glasgow, adding that Toriola was picked being the most experienced athlete in the team coupled with dedication and patriotism to the country.
Also to acknowledge the pedigree of Toriola among the Commonwealth nations, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has lauded the former Africa champion alongside New Zealand’s Lee Chunli, after they both won the first gold medals a the games during the maiden outing of table tennis at the Commonwealth games in Manchester 2002.
According to ITTF Publication Director, Ian Marshall, Toriola caused major upsets at the Manchester Games when he accounted for Canada’s Johnny Huang loss to clinch gold in the men’s singles, while Lee Chunli using her traditional Asian pen-hold grip style of play to great effect, attacked like fury to beat Singapore’s Lee Jiawei.
“Furthermore, both Toriola and Chunli, the champions 12 years ago will once again be in action. In Glasgow, Toriola lines up alongside Aruna Quadri, Ojo Onaolapo, Bode Abiodun and Jide Ogidiolu; Li Chunli joins forces with sister Karen Li, Annie Yang, Jenny Hung and Sun Yang who fulfils the role of player coach.
“A mere 27 years old at the time of his Manchester victory, we expected to see Toriola appear again,” Marshall said.
“In Manchester, in addition to his Men’s Singles title, Toriola had joined forces with Kazeem Noziru, Monday Merotohun and Suraju Saka (now of Congo Brazzaville) to secure bronze in the Men’s Team event.
Four years later in Melbourne, Australia, he added to his medal tally by winning Men’s Doubles gold with Merotohun, whilst also securing bronze in the Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles events,” he added.
Meanwhile, Nigeria will on Thursday begins its campaign in the team event of table tennis as the Funke Oshonaike-led women team tackles Kenya and India in their group D matches of the competition.
The last group game for the team holds on Friday when it takes on Barbados to decide the two top teams that will progress to the knockout stage.
The men team has been drawn alongside Bangladesh, Mauritius and Kiribati with the team clashing against Bangladesh and Mauritius on Thursday while the last group game will be against Kiribati on Friday.