Africa’s number one table tennis player, Aruna Quadri has disclosed that he remains optimistic of picking a ticket to this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, despite a recent downturn in fortunes, megasportsarena.com reports.
He has failed to enact top form are returning from a nagging hamstring injury and then had an unsuccessful efforts at qualifying for the severally postponed Games in Tokyo through the World Singles Qualification Tournament at Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena in Doha, Qatar.
In the qualifying competition hosted by Qatar Table Tennis Association (QTTA), under the auspices of International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), four spots to Tokyo were reserved for men and five set aside for women.
However, it turned out to be a nightmare form Quadri, who was listed among 73 men and seeded number two behind England’s Liam Pitchford, as the Nigerian ace fell to Vladimir Sidorenko of Russia and missed the much desired qualification.
Despite the defeat, though, Quadri, who is also Africa’s number one ping pong player, said he had put behind him his loss to the Russian lad, who also edged out Egypt’s Omar Assar from the World Table Tennis (WTT) Star Contender.
Indeed, it is alarming that Quadri, who is currently ranked 21st in the world and the highest placed African player on the ITTF ratings, missed out on an Olympic Games slot after bowing to a thigh injury at the last hurdle in the qualifiers in Tunisia.
A report by Making of Champions further noted that, with the cancelation of all events in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Quadri was unable to compete for the available slots at the ITTF World Singles in Doha and tumbled at the second event in March of 2021.
All odds are now staked against Quadri, who made waves in Rio five years ago, after becoming the first African player to make the quarter finals of the singles by defeating German legend and three-time Olympic Games medalist, Timo Boll in one of the greatest upsets ever and became the continent’s most successful player at the Games.
Those feats are now what are boosting confidence from Quadri, who now plays for TTC RhönSprudel Fulda-Maberzell Club of Germany, as he hopes to lead Olajide Omotayo, Nurudeen Hassan and Mati Taiwo to Tokyo, as he aims to get his third appearance at the Olympics through his placement on the ITTF ranking.
Quadri went on to declare that he remains optimistic that he will get a spot in Tokyo through the ITTF World Ranking, and added: “It was not what I expected but all hope is not lost as I am still the second rated player in the world among the ranking of those who are yet to pick their tickets to Tokyo.
“For now, the ranking will remain like this as there are no tournaments again until May when the final list would be made public. I will continue to train in readiness for the games as I only need the final confirmation from ITT to be listed for Tokyo 2020.”
His permutations have been supported by African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) president, Khaled El-Salhy, who acknowledged that Quadri’s qualification is very important to the continent.
He, however, conceded that Quadri will now have to rely heavily on the June 2020 ITTF World Ranking, from which the top 13 players in the world expected to get their qualification through their world rating and, while Olajide Omotayo is the only Nigerian that has qualified, the country still has one more slot to take.
El-Salhy submitted: “For sure the participation of Aruna Quadri in the Olympic Games is very important to ATTF as the top African ranked player and his expected super performance in such special event as he did in the last edition in Rio 2016.
“Normally he should have qualified in the African Qualification Tournament, unfortunately, he could not continue due to his sudden injury during the third stage of group matches. Now the situation is that we have fulfilled two qualification stages, and then ATTF should work hard together with NTTF for the coming stages of qualification.
“I completely believe that a top player like Aruna Quadri has a very big chance to join the African qualifiers through one of the remaining two stages of qualification due to his ranking and super performance whenever he recovers from his injury soon.
“I have to admit that Aruna Quadri is a special top player in Africa and with his current ITTF ranking making him among the top 20 while his performance has shown worldwide in all previous World, Olympic, Continental, and sanctioned events during the recent years. I think he cannot afford to miss the Olympic Games this year.”