By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Team Nigeria’s table tennis players began their London Olympic campaign on a shaky ground here at the ExCel-North Arena 1 venue of the sport Saturday as Quadri Aruna survived a rampaging Spaniard, Carlos Machado, to book a second round berth.
The number six African ranked player survived a two-set disadvantage to stream rolled to the second round in 4-2 result.
After doing a ding-dong of 11-6, 6-11, 11-3 start, Aruna stormed to pick the fourth in a deuce of 13-11. He added the next two of 11-8 and 11-6 to make his second round berth a sure bet.
But that was not the same story for Team Nigeria’s two female entries of Funke Oshonaike and Offiong Edem.
Both of them got knocked out in the preliminary and first rounds respectively. First, it was Edem who failed to match her pre-game form. She lost 4-2 to Egypt’s up coming starlet, Dina Meshref.
Offiong had beaten the Egyptian at the All Africa Games in Maputa thereby attracting the ire of Table Tennis Scribe, Segun Oguntade.
“She was so much in a hurry and lost valuable points. She defeated the Egyptian lady during the last All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique,’’ Oguntade rued.
Oshonaike, who stroked off to a sparkling preliminary round start earlier, defeating her Iranian counterpart, Shahsavari Neda 4-3, crumbled in a scandalous 4-0 defeat to Italian Tan Wenling.
Despite loosing her preliminary first set 11-13, the five-time Olympian was not rattled but bounced back pulling off excellent strokes to down the Iranian in the next set 11-8.
Her rhythm did not change and she went on the offensive to win the remaining two sets. The Iranian rallied back to win 11-9, 11-5 but Funke would not let her go. She took the last set 11-3 to win at 4-3 and set the Nigerians on a victory path. But the Italian proved too tough for her in the second round to take her early exit from the singles event.
When Segun Toriola took the centre stage, it was so obvious that he was not attending his 6th Olympics for nothing. He practically flogged his Canadian opponent, Ho Andre in the four sets allowing him to win one set.
Toriola was battling in his second round game of the day as at press time last night.