Organisers of the World Table Tennis Contender Lagos have tipped the younger Nigerian players participating in the competition to succeed, although they expressed their disappointment that Africa’s top table tennis player, Aruna Quadri, will not feature at the tournament.
Quadri, in a post on the WTT Lagos Instagram account, announced that club engagements had prevented him from making the trip down to Lagos and drummed support for other Nigerian players in the competition, which will hold between June 12 and 18.
The WTT Contender, which is coming on the heels of the just-concluded first ITTF World Championships in South Africa, will allow players to garner ranking points in their quest to pick tickets to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in France.
The event director, Kweku Tandoh, told The PUNCH that playing with top players in the competition would help the younger players improve their performances.
“Quadri himself feels bad that he cannot be here because one of the players that beat him at the WTT in Durban, South Africa, will also be here, it would have been an opportunity for him to avenge the loss. We have the former world number one coming and about 13 Chinese players coming here too. The tournament is going to be top quality,” Tandoh said.
“It is an opportunity, even if they (young players) don’t get through to the qualifiers. It is competitions like this that will help them build confidence, and know where they need to improve in terms of their performance. Don’t forget that players like Taiwo Mati (ranked 75) and Olajide Omotayo (ranked 144) started about 10 years ago with the Lagos International Classics, now they are world players because at that early stage, they were able to rub shoulders with top foreign players, and it helped them to build up their own game,” he told The PUNCH.
Vice President of the International Table Tennis Federation, Wahid Oshodi, told journalists during the press conference at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos that it was time for a new generation of players to grab the spotlight.