‘Dedication, discipline behind long reign of Toriola, Oshonaike’
Former Head Coach of Lagos State Table Tennis Association, Olasumbo Dele, has ascribed the long years of service by two of the nation’s most experienced players in the sport, Segun Toriola and Funke Oshonaike, to dedication, discipline and humility.
Toriola, featuring in his seventh Olympics, was beaten 4-2 in the second round by Japanese Niwa Koki, and while Oshonaike, a sixth Olympiad, lost to 15-year-old Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico in the first round.
According to Dele, who discovered Oshonaike as a primary school pupil, what stood both athletes out was commitment. “These two players were respectful, discipline and have passion for table tennis. They were not in the game for the money but strictly for the love of the game. They trained very hard to enable them compete very well in their early days.
“I discovered Funke when she was just eight years old playing for her primary school at Shomolu, Bariga. She had good character, discipline and was ready to learn everything you put before her. As for Toriola, who is from Ogun State, he had similar qualities of someone who was ready to learn on the trade. But the qualities these two players have are lacking in some of the youngsters,” he said.
The six-time winner of the Asoju-Oba Table Tennis Championship added: “At times when you notice something special in any of the young table tennis players and you try to offer assistance, they look down on you.”
Asked if this Olympic could be Toriola’s last outing in Nigeria’s colours, Dele retorted: “Who can beat him among the youngsters? Except for Aruna Quadri? Despite his age and the number of years he has put in the game, none of the young players can match him. I still see Toriola adorning the nation’s colours for some time to come but not at the Olympics.
“Both Toriola and Oshonaike have done their best representing the nation in many tournaments. I think it is time for more young players to be discovered for the future of table tennis in the country – the ones to take over from these legends of our time,” he stated.