In 2009, Li Ping represented his country of birth – China and his partnership with compatriot – Cao Zhen claimed the mixed doubles title at the World Championships in Japan. Now he has changed nationality to Qatar and since switching to the gulf nation, Li Ping has won some ITTF Tours and now he will visiting Africa for the first time to feature in the ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open ‘Lagos 2017’ on August 9 to 13 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.
However, the Qatari believes he looks forward to exciting firework in Lagos considering the quality of players listed for the five-day $46,000 prize money tournament.
“I expect the 2017 ITTF Nigeria Open to live up to its billing as one of the topmost tournaments on the ITTF Challenge Series. The quality of the players is quite strong this year and I look forward to some ‘firecrackers’ of skills and talents during the competition.
“This is my first trip to Africa and I’m happy to visit Nigeria as my first port of call on the continent. Nigeria has produced some great talents in table tennis and the country has a rich history when it comes to table tennis. I’m expecting to have a great time during the visit and to enjoy the tournament as much as possible,” he said.
On his intention to sign up for the tournament, Li Ping said: “The quality of the field as well as the opportunity to play in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, was what attracted me to this year’s Nigeria Open. One of Nigeria’s finest players, Aruna Quadri, has played at the Qatar Open many times and I have great respect for him. I would like to play him on his own turf as well and I will appreciate the opportunity of us meeting during the competition.”
“This year’s tournament parades a very strong field which is an indication of the interest it has generated across the world. I believe there has been a remarkable improvement and I think the tournament is going to keep improving yearly. Like I said earlier, Nigeria has produced so many great talents – Atanda Musa, Aruna Quadri, Segun Toriola, Bose Kaffo to mention but a few. Table tennis is very popular in Nigeria and I am glad to play there.”
On his immediate target in Lagos, the Qatari boasted: “I hope to win the tournament and lift the champion trophy at the end of the day. I’m well prepared and I’m ready to give it my best shot. I know it’s not going to be easy but I believe I am up to the task.”