The Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) has named a strong seven-man team for this year’s ITTF World Championships holding in Dusseldorf, Germany on May 29 to June 5.
According to the federation, Africa’s highest ranked player – Aruna Quadri and seven-time Olympian – Segun Toriola will lead the men’s team while African champion – Olufunke Oshonaike will spearhead the women’s team to the biggest table tennis tournament in the world this year.
In the men’s team, Italy-based Olajide Omotayo will be making his debut at the World Championship as the former junior national champion has been included in the team following his exploits at the last ITTF African Championships in Agadir, Morocco.
Omotayo who grew through the rank from cadet to senior is excited about his inclusion in the team, describing it as a rare opportunity. He however pledged to make his inclusion count in Germany.
After his last outing for Nigeria at the 2016 World Team Championships in Malaysia, Ojo Onaolapo made a return to the team. The Ondo State-born star moved to Portugal this season and has been outstanding for his Portuguese team – ADC Ponta Do Pargo in the elite Portuguese league.
Onaolapo’s heroic performance at the 2014 Commonwealth Games still stands him out in the team.
For the women’s team, Oshonaike who turned the clock back at Agadir, Morocco last year by winning the African title she last won in 2003 will be joined in Germany by her compatriots – Edem Offiong and Cecilia Akpan.
In 2016, Offiong and Akpan missed Malaysia World Championships and Morocco African Championships following the inability of NTTF to secure funds for the trip and they are returning to the team this year.
However, the team will be relying on the financial support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in its quest to be part of the championship as the NTTF has made a formal request for the trip.