When Segun Toriola made his debut at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games in Spain, he just wanted to fulfill his childhood dream of competing at the biggest sporting event in the world.
But when the Rio 2016 Olympic Games kick off on August 5, Toriola will etch his name in the annals of Olympic history as the first African to compete at seven Olympiads.
“I feel very honoured about this my seventh Olympic Games because it is a record for me, Nigeria and for the continent of Africa.
“At the beginning of my table tennis career, I didn’t know that I’m going to play in seven Olympics but here I am heading to Rio and I am super excited for this feat,” he said.
Toriola, who is yet to get national honour for his feat as the most successful table tennis player in Africa is focusing on doing well at the Rio Games.
However, Toriola is optimistic of good outing in Rio despite the lack of preparation, “The team is trying a lot to prepare ourselves because it is very important that we put up a good performance and make the country proud at the Olympics. We are preparing ourselves very well and hopefully we will have something to celebrate in Rio.”
On Aruna Quadri, he said: “Aruna Quadri is an experienced player considering what he has achieved as a player. I don’t think that he will be under unnecessary pressure because he is not going to be thinking about the pressure because it is only when an athlete thinks based on his status that the pressure will affect his performance.”
TORIOLA’S ROLL OF HONOUR
* 4 African Table Tennis Singles Championships medals (1998, 2002, 2004, 2006) and 2 Doubles Championships (1994, 1992)
* A Commonwealth Singles Championship (2002) in Manchester (United Kingdom)
* A Commonwealth Doubles Championship and Singles Bronze Medal (2006) in Melbourne (Australia)
* 4 African Games Singles Gold Medals (1995, 1999, 2003, 2007),
* 4 Doubles Gold Medals (1995, 1999, 2003, 2007),
* 1 Mixed Doubles Gold Medal (1999, with Bose Kaffo; they also won silver in 2003)
* 3 Team Gold Medals (1995, 1999, 2003).
* Olympic Games: Featured in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and now 2016 in Brazil.