By Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa, Press Officer
By all standards, Segun Toriola is a sports legend having attended seven Olympic Games, regarded as the most decorated table tennis player in Africa and the first player to win the men’s singles title in the table tennis event of the Commonwealth Games at Manchester 2002 in England.
Now 42, Segun Toriola is not ready to give up on his chances of making it to the podium at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
The former African champion played a crucial role in the medals won by Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games and he is willing to lead the West African nation to a good outing in 2018.
“Just like Olympic Games and World Championship, Commonwealth Games is a special tournament for every athlete particularly when it is a multi-sports competition. The spirit at the Commonwealth Games is different because everybody is eager to make the podium because all eyes will be on star players. So for me it has been a special tournament because when I won the men’s singles at Manchester 2002, nobody expected me to win it. Also personally, I was not thinking of the title but when we started the tournament, I started to grow in confident and this really helped to win.
“With the quality of players in our team like the likes of Aruna Quadri and Bode Abiodun, we have the chance to win medals in 2018. Aruna Quadri is one of the best in the world while Bode Abiodun has been playing very well lately. I am sure that if they can continue with their present form, we will be a team to beat but we must get ourselves very well from the team event. I am aware that the Indians have been working hard in recent times while the English team is also in superb form having won bronze medal at the 2016 World Championships in Malaysia. The host – Australia are not pushovers as well because they have quality players as well. But I must say it is going to be explosive at the 2018 Commonwealth Games,” he said.
For Segun Toriola, Australia has always taken a special place in his heart when it comes to staging a major tournament. “I could remember the memory of the Sydney Olympic and Melbourne Commonwealth Games. In terms of organization, Australia are among the best because every athlete is always looking forward to traveling to Australia despite being at the extreme of the world. I am looking forward to Gold Coast in 2018 particularly when it comes to organization of event. I cannot wait to be in Australia come April 2018,” he added.