African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) president Khaled El-Salhy believes Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri will still qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics despite the top-ranked African missing out on a ticket at the African Qualifying tournament in Tunis.
Quadri pulled out of the competition with an injured thigh following a loss to Ibrahima Diaw of Senegal in the group stage.
That meant the player failed to pick one of eight tickets for the singles in Tokyo.
El-Salhy, however, said two more avenues exist for the player to secure a berth in Tokyo adding that it was imperative for the ATTF that its best player qualifies for the Games.
“For sure the participation of Aruna Quadri in the Olympic Games is very important to ATTF as the top African ranked player and his expected super performance in such special event as he did in the last edition in Rio 2016,” Khaled El-Salhy said.
Normally he should have qualified in the African Qualification Tournament, unfortunately, he could not continue due to his sudden injury during the 3rd stage of group matches.
“Now the situation is that we have fulfilled two qualification stages (Team Qualification & Continental Qualification), then ATTF should work hard together with NTTF for the coming stages of qualification,” he added.
According to ATTF chief, Quadri could still plot a route to Japan through the final World Singles Qualifying Tournament which will hold in Qatar from 28-31 May, with the eight top players expected to qualify from the tournament.
However, he said the last option which the Nigerian had met is through the June 2020 ITTF World Ranking with the top 13 players yet to qualify for the Games expected to seal their spots via their world ranking.
Quadri is currently ranked 18th in the world.
“I completely believe that a top player like Aruna Quadri has a very big chance to join the African qualifiers through one of the remaining two stages of qualification due to his ranking and super performance whenever he recovers from his injury soon,” the ATTF boss said.
“I have to admit that Aruna Quadri is a special top player in Africa and with his current ITTF ranking making him among the top 20 while his performance has shown worldwide in all previous World, Olympic, Continental and sanctioned events during the recent years. I think he cannot afford to miss the Olympic Games this year,” El-Salhy said.
El-Salhy said 86 men and 86 women are expected to represent Africa at Tokyo 2020 with each country having two players each in men and women events.
For now, Olajide Omotayo remains the only Nigerian that has qualified for the men’s singles so Nigeria still has one more slot for the Games.