Sunday, July 14, 2024

WTT Contender Lagos: Aruna Out, Players Kick-Start Olympic Preparations

According to Wahid Oshodi, what matters to Aruna is recovering from the injury sustained to take part in the Olympics

Nigeria’s No. 1 Aruna Quadri has been confirmed to miss the WTT Contender Lagos for the second consecutive year following an injury.

Aruna, who missed last year’s event due to unforeseen circumstances, will not participate again in Lagos. This was confirmed by the LOC Chairperson, Wahid Oshodi, during a press conference held at the Molade Okoya Arena on Tuesday.

According to the table tennis chief, what matters to Aruna is recovering from the injury sustained to participate in the Olympics.

“Aruna is coming slowly, grinding to the end of a good career and this Olympics is very important to him.”

Oshodi then added that the 400-point competition, despite the fall in the number of participants, will still serve as a preparatory plan for players going to the Olympics in Paris.

Recall that the Olympic Games kick off in 38 days with Nigerian players like Fatima Bello and Offiong Edem, who are also participants in the WTT championship.

“Last year, in terms of numbers, was fabulous. We had about 150–200 players, but this year we have 70–80 players. Of course, due to the Olympics, a lot of players are at their training camps. I think we are lucky to have those numbers: Indians, Chinese, and Koreans—those are big nations playing.

“We are excited to see big Chinese players playing, and the national junior champions in China are top professionals across the world.”

Opportunity for youngsters to grow

Despite Aruna’s absence, Oshodi emphasised that his withdrawal provides a positive opportunity for young players to gain direct experience by competing against top players from around the world.

“What we look for here are the most exciting players in the world. And most importantly, what Nigerians don’t always take note of is that the youngsters will all be seen at this event.

We have Nigerian players—about 42—in the draw this year. That tells you about how well we have done over the last year. And for the younger players, we are hoping to see how well they improve. Hopefully, they become big names, with Mati playing in the national team, and Abdulbasit and Abdulfatai; left-handed and fantastic players. So, some exciting times for them.”

Tandoh praises continuous improvement

Kweku Tandoh, the African ITTF Chief Operating Officer, expressed his delight in the Federation’s progress over the past 13 years in developing top stars.

“It’s another opportunity for us to showcase the template and talents that have been developed over the last couple of years.

“It’s something we have been doing for over 13 years, and we have all the hands that have been working with us, and they are still on board. I can tell everyone that we are ready, and the last part of the expected players are arriving today (Tuesday).”

Just like Oshodi stated, Tandoh also buttressed the fact that the competition, with the level of players arriving, is expected to be competitive, which will also prepare them for the Olympics.

“It serves as preparation for the international players taking part in the Olympics, and many of them have included it in their training series.”

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