Quadri Aruna will compete in the Men’s Singles event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after qualifying through the World Rankings, the International Table Tennis Federation has confirmed.
Aruna, Africa’s top ranked men’s player failed to qualify for the Tokyo Games through several qualifying events but the world number 27 has now picked one of the spots set aside for top ranked players.
Aruna’s qualification was communicated to the Presidents of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) and the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) in a letter signed by ITTF Competition Director Gabor Felegyi.
“It is with great pleasure, I advise the qualification of Quadri Arena to compete in the table tennis Men’s Singles event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, on the basis of World Ranking allocation according to the June 2021 ITTF Olympic Qualification Ranking,” Felegyi stated.
Aruba’s participation would, however, need to be confirmed by the NOC by 16 June the ITTF said.
With this development, Aruna will be making his third appearance at the Olympic Games having featured in London 2012 and Rio 2016 and he will join compatriots – African men’s singles champion Olajide Omotayo, Africa’s women’s Olympics record appearance holder Olufunke Oshonaike and Edem Offiong to compete in the singles event at Tokyo.
At Rio 2016, Arena stunned the world with his performance becoming the first African to reach the quarterfinals after beating several leading players including former world number one, Timo Boll of Germany. He lost in the last eight to the eventual winner, Ma Long of China.
Reacting to the development, NTTF Caretaker Committee Chairman Ishaku Tikon said he never lost hope Aruna would make the Olympics despite his many setbacks in the qualifiers and injury struggles.
“When Aruna got injured during the African Qualifying tournament in Tunis last year, I told the world that he will make it to Tokyo as he is ranked among the top 10 in the Olympic ranking,” Tikon said. “Despite the setback in Tunisia, Aruna did not relent in his performance and for me I am so excited as a Nigerian because his qualification will surely motivate others to look up to him and aim for the best in Tokyo.”
Already 64 players have so far been confirmed for the men’s singles event while the remaining six slots are expected to be allocated as wildcards.