By James Agberebi:
Veteran Nigeria table tennis star, Segun Toriola, has stated that he is not ready to quit playing for Nigeria as he has set his sights on representing the country at Tokyo 2020.
Toriola, 42, made his seventh appearance at the Olympic Games in Rio after debuting in Barcelona 1992.
In a release by ITTF-Africa, Toriola who was honoured at Rio 2016 said as long as he is still fit he will continue to represent Nigeria at major tournaments.
He also said Nigeria's inability to produce top class players is one of the reasons he is yet to call time on his playing career.
“I am still one of the best in my sport despite my age and my consistency in table tennis which sees me playing in two top regular clubs in Europe would remain an added advantage for me as I continue to play in world class competitions,” Toriola inisted.
“Being 42 years old is one thing, being fit enough to continue playing top table tennis is another. I am very disciplined and I religiously follow the things that will continue to aid my fitness in the game. Come Tokyo 2020, I will still be good to represent Nigeria in top grade international competitions until after the Tokyo Olympics.
“The fear of not having any top-rated Nigerian player doing well at the international circuit for a long time was one of the reasons I prolonged my playing career in table tennis. I was scared not having any quality players to hand over to when I retire,” he said.
“But with the emergence of Aruna Quadri, I can now retire peacefully with the rest of mind that, there is somebody worth the salt who can continue from where I stop, but this won’t happen until after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I am still very active and even the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation have asked me to continue.
“Some countries approached me in Rio to take up the full-time job as national team coach, but I turned all the requests down as I am not ready to quit," added Toriola.
Toriola went on to state that with the feat achieved by Quadri in Rio, a younger generation of Nigerians will be inspired to take up the sport.
“My recognition by the IOC at the Rio Olympics was a very good one and recognition of my achievements.
"This serves as a motivation for the youthful table tennis players and a boost for them to work hard and do well in their career. They now know that when they distinguish themselves, they would be recognized by the international sports federations.”