Aruna lights up Houston, qualifies for quarterfinal
The city of Houston stood still for Quadri Aruna, after the Nigerian became the first African to reach the quarterfinal in the history of the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals.
He made his presence felt amidst the array of stars competing at the 2021 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals staged at the George R. Brown Convention Centre in Houston, Texas, United States.
Earlier on Thursday, Aruna had beaten the round of 32 record set in 2019 by Egypt’s duo of Omar Assar and Ahmed Saleh after he breezed into the round of 16. But he erased the record to set another one with a place in the quarterfinal of the championships.
The 2014 ITTF World Player of Year became the first Nigerian and player from Africa to feature in the last eight at the World Table Tennis Championship after he defeated Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson 4-3 (11-9, 5-11, 13-11, 5-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6).
“It’s amazing. I had to dig deep and I gave everything I had. I’m excited about the quarterfinal. I’ve been playing very well and the spirit of never giving up is always there,” said Aruna during a post-match interview.
The Nigerian was expected to confront another Swedish record breaker, Truls Moregard, in the quarterfinal late yesterday, November 27.
According to ITTF, players from Africa, Europe, North America, South America and Asia are expected to continue lighting up the historical event, which is being hosted in the Americas for the first time in its storied history.
African table tennis continues to shine brightly after Aruna’s historic passage to the last eight at the World Table Tennis Championship. “It means a lot to me,” he said, “especially for Nigeria and the whole of Africa. Table tennis is growing very fast in Africa. Now we have several players in the Top 100,” said Aruna.