Segun Toriola’s dream of making it to the seventh Olympic Games in Brazil is getting closer after the former African champion dominated Group One in the preliminary stage of the ITTF Africa Olympics Qualification Tournament holding presently in Khartoum, Sudan.
Also, Edem Offiong who finished fourth at the ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup is getting a ray of hope of playing in her third Olympics after coming top in Group One of the women’s preliminaries.
Paris-based Cameroun’s Sarah Hanffou also had an easy ride to the second round while the only upset in the first stage was caused by unseeded Tunisia’s Safa Saidani who defeated number 10 seed, Algeria’s Isem Laid 3-1 to put her Olympics dream on the right track.
The 24 year-old Tunisian told NationSport after the match that, “My dream is to become African champion because I train very hard in Tunis but I did not have quality players to train with. Most of the female players in Tunisia are juniors and I must be playing with top players to be able to get stronger in the game”.
I noticed that Nigerian players have always being my Waterloo in major tournaments in Africa. Specifically, Olufunke Oshonaike has been my undoing in tournaments but I know that as I continue to work hard, my dream of ruling the continent will be getting closer,” Safa Saidani said.
She described the victory over Algeria’s Islem Laid as a morale booster of her dream of picking one of the two slots for the Rio 2016 Olympics. “This is the first time I would be playing against Islem and I am happy that I was able to defeat her because she is a good player”.
“I most times find it difficult to play against any playing using pimples but today my service and my forehand were my saving grace against her. I will continue to work hard and I know that being my appearance at the Olympics qualifiers, I still have more years ahead of me to feature in future events and hopefully I will fulfil my dream.”
Today, the tournament continues with the knockout stage while the finalists in the men and women events will automatically qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.