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Nigerian women need hard work, dedication to reclaim elite status, says Obisanya

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[File] Nigeria’s Olofunke Oshonaike eyes the ball in her women’s singles qualification round table tennis match at the Riocentro venue during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 6, 2016.<br />Jim WATSON / AFP

Former National Table Tennis Coach, Babatunde Obisanya has advised Nigerian women to work harder and be dedicated if they wished to reclaim their top rating in African table tennis.

He also believes the women need the country’s assistance to make meaningful impact at major championships.

Speaking on the abysmal performance of the country’s women at the just ended International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open at the weekend, Obisanya said the nation is blessed with talented young girls who need the right guidance and support to reach the top.

Nigeria dominated African women table tennis from the 1960s up to early this century when the likes of Olawunmi Majekodunmi, Bose Kaffo, and later Olufunke Oshonaike ruled the roost.

But now the pendulum has swung to Egypt’s women, who are now in control of Africa.

At the Nigeria Open, the best veterans, Oshonaike and Cecilia Akpan, could achieve was qualifying for the round of 16, where they were stopped by Chinese Fan Siqi and Hungary’s Szandra Pergel. Offiong Edem, however, failed to advance beyond the round of 32.

Speaking to The Guardian on the issue, Obisanya said the women need to be pushed harder than their male counterparts, adding that some of them are not helping themselves due to their physical attributes.

“Our women need a harder push for them to get to their maximum potential level.

When you see Funke even at her age, you know she is an athlete because she looks like one.

“The same cannot be said of others, who may have probably abused their bodies.

Some may also be mistaken as wrestlers even though wrestlers too need to be fit,” he said.

Obisanya, a champion at the Asoju Oba Molade Okoya-Thomas Table Tennis competition on several occasions, also said, “the government needs to do more work on our women because without help the gap between them and their male counterparts will continue to widen.

“For now, Aruna Quadri, currently ranked 18 in the world by the ITTF, is representing us well, following in the footsteps of Atanda Musa, Kasali Lasisi, and veteran, Segun Toriola. But the same cannot be said of our ladies.”


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