REIGNING African champion, Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri has crashed out of the ongoing Rio Olympics.
Quadri, who became the first African to qualify for the quarter-final of the men’s table tennis singles event of the Olympic Games, lost 0-4 to world’s number one, Ma Long of China in the early hours of Wednesday.
The match ended in just 28 minutes with Long cruising to the semi-final with 11-4, 11-2, 11-6, 11-7 scoreline.
Quadri, had before his exit in the Games created upsets when he sent world’s number seven, Chuang Chih-Yuan of Chinese Taipei 4-0 (11-6, 12-10, 11-6, 11-7) and world’s number 13th Timo Boll of Germany packing in the third and fourth round respectively.
Meanwhile, Quadri, who marked his 28th birthday on the day he lost to the king of table tennis was honoured by Brazilian spectators after the match, as they sang a befitting birthday song in honour of the Oyo State-born ping pong star.
“They were really good singers, I was so happy seeing them singing for me, it’s an amazing thing,” an elated Quadri said.
The 40 ranked player in the world and 27 at Rio Olympics, acknowledged that he lost to a better opponent saying: “MA Long is so much better, so much faster, everything is just perfect about Long. His speed was just too much for me (to contain). It was not going very well for me tonight and I had a lot more difficulty receiving his service. He was stronger and faster, everything was just too perfect about him.”
With his feat in Rio, Quadri believes this would inspire African players to aim for medals at the Olympics.
“I believe that it is possible for an African to win Olympic medal in table tennis because nothing is impossible to go there, and not just me. I strongly believe there are some upcoming players in Africa, including Omar Assar, and some top Nigerian players who could be able to easily match my record with hard work,” the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist stated.
Meanwhile, Quadri has been rewarded by Frot Group with a sum of $2,500 (about N1million).
According to the President of Frot Group, Frank Momoh, the exploits of the Nigerian star at Rio 2016 should be celebrated.
“Despite the loss of Quadri to Ma Long, the team needs our commendation, especially as Quadri has set a new African record as the first African to reach an Olympic quarter final in table tennis.
“To show our full support for the team, I on behalf of Frot Group hereby give a cash reward of $2,500 to Aruna Quadri for his new African record. Well done NTTF President, Wahid Enitan-Oshodi, well done team Nigeria,” Momoh stated.