ITTF tour championship is good competition for preparation, says Abiodun
Portugal-based table tennis star, Bode Abiodun, believes the recent International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour Premier Lotto Nigeria Open held at the Molade Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, will go a long way in assisting the players perform well at the Rio Olympics Games in Brazil.
Nigeria will feature five athletes in the singles and doubles of table tennis event, with Africa’s most decorated player and seventh-time Olympian, Segun Toriola, leading the team. Other members are Africa’s top ranked player, Aruna Quadri; sixth-time Olympian, Funke Oshonaike; Bode Abiodun and Offiong Edem.
Speaking to The Guardian at the Nigeria Open won by Finland’s Benedek Olah (Men) and Portugal’s Shao Jieni (Women), Abiodun said the Lagos tournament was indeed a good opportunity to prepare the team, though; the federation still needs to do more.
“This is a good tournament for preparation, especially since we are going to compete with some of these players at the Olympics. We still have another pro-tour in Korea and Japan to get us prepared for the Olympics. I will say that we still need more competitions to enable us do well,” he said.
When The Guardian reminded him of the statement credited to the former coach of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation, Babatunde Obisanya, that the Tour might not really add much value to their preparation, Abiodun said, “Coach Obisanya knows what he is saying; I think he should know better after being the coach of the national team for many years. But all the same, I still think the World Tour will add up to something, because experience counts a lot in table tennis.”
On the organisation of the Premier Lotto Nigeria Open, the 35-year old player, who is thrilled that he would be appearing at the Olympics for the first time, said: “I want to give kudos to the organisers of the tournament because every player at the championship seemed to agree that the organisers deserve a pass mark, though, it could still be better.”