Nigeria’s Table Tennis Star Segun Toriola has announced his retirement from the game after failing to pick a record eighth Olympic ticket at the Africa Qualifying Tournament in Tunisia.
Toriola was on his way to becoming Africa’s first table tennis player to attend eight Olympic tournaments when Egypt’s duo of Omar Assar and Dina Meshref stopped him and his partner Oshonaike Olufunke in the mixed doubles 11-6, 11-6, 11-6, 11-2 on Saturday.
Oshonaike had earlier beaten Cameroon’s Sarah Hannfou 4-1 (12-10, 11-4, 4-11, 11-7, 11-6) on Friday, February 28 to book a historic place in Tokyo 2020 as the first African female athlete to attend seven Olympic Games.
There was a hint from the start of the match that it might not go the way of the record-chasing Nigerian dup as the Egyptians raced to an 11-6 win in the first set. They cemented their hold on the match with the same score win in the second set and eventually triumphed 11-7 and 11-2 in the last two sets to claim Africa’s sole slot in the mixed doubles.
Toriola described the result as “disappointing” but however expressed gratitude to God for the privilege of appearing in seven Olympic Games.
“I wanted to try to make it to my eight Olympic Games. Unfortunately, I could not but in all I am very happy with my career to become the first African to attend seven Olympic Games. I hope upcoming players will take it from here. Olympic Games for me has been a great experience,” Toriola said.
He went on to drop the bombshell about his retirement in just a few lines when questioned on the possibility of him returning for another Olympic event.
“No, No, I’m not. That’s it for me, not anymore.”
The 45-year-old made his first appearance at the Olympics in 1992 and has never missed any edition since then. His biggest achievement at the Olympics was reaching the Men’s Singles 1/16 final at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, beating amongst others former world number 1 Jean-Michel Saive as well as David Zhuang.
He won a total of 12 gold medals at the All-Africa Games. (Singles – 4, Doubles – 4, Mixed Doubles – 1, Team – 3) and also clinched Bronze at the Commonwealth Singles Championship in 2006.