NIGERIA’S Segun Toriola has also inscribed the country’s name on the Olympic Games record as his feat of being the most decorated table tennis player in Africa has been recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
In the article published on the IOC website on Monday, Toriola was described as a record breaking athlete, who is Africa’s most successful table tennis player of all-time.
For appearing at every Olympic Games since his debut at Barcelona ’92, Toriola has been lauded for being the first athlete from the continent to be making seven appearances at the Olympics.
“Seven is the number of athletes who have appeared at seven Olympic Games or more, the outright record holder being Canadian show jumper, Ian Millar, who made 10 appearances between Munich 1972 and London 2012. Figuring large among the group of evergreen performers with seven Games to their name is legendary sprinter, Merlene Ottey, while this most select club is about to welcome a new member in Nigerian table tennis player,
Segun Toriola, who booked his place at Rio 2016 in February,” IOC stated.
It added: “Toriola was only 18 when he made his Olympic debut at Barcelona 1992, teaming up in the doubles with Yomi Bankole. The Nigerian pair scored a solitary win in the group phase, over Cuba’s Ruben Arado and Santiago Roque. After further first-round exits in both the singles and the doubles at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, Toriola reached the third round of the singles at Athens 2004.
It however acknowledged the former African champion as one of the best performers at the Olympic Games.
“In Beijing four years later, he produced the best performance of his lengthy Olympic career to date, scoring back-to-back wins over former world number one, David Zhuang of USA and Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive, and then taking the Republic of Korea’s Oh Sangeun to a seventh set. Appearing at London 2012 at the age of 37, Toriola went out in the second round to Sweden’s five-time world champion Jörgen Persson.”
IOC also listed some of the laurels won by Toriola by saying, “Born in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State, Toriola became Africa’s undisputed number one on the back of his unreadable forehand drive, topspin game and speed across the ground. A four-time continental champion between 1998 and 2006, he has also won four African Games titles, a Commonwealth Games gold medal – at Manchester 2002 – and a string of men’s doubles,
mixed doubles and team titles.”