Onaolapo, Omotayo upbeat ahead Lagos ITTF World Tour
ITALY-BASED duo of Ojo Onaolapo and Olajide Omotayo believe the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour, tagged Lagos Open, would provide Nigeria an ample chance to confirm its place in the top bracket of the sport.
Onaolapo, who was part of Nigeria’s team to the last ITTF Africa Senior Championships, would not want to remember the defeats he suffered in the hand of Egypt’s El-Sayed Lashin twice in Cairo, while Omotayo would not want the memory of his poor performance in 2014 to haunt him during the 2015 Lagos Open.
Onaolapo, a silver medalist in the men’s doubles event at the Africa Senior Championships, hopes to use the tournament to settle scores with the Egyptians.
“My expectation for this year’s tournament is for me to train hard so that I can perform well in any pro tournament this year. It was a bit difficult for me in my first tournament for the year, especially with my recent move to Europe. On returning to Europe I corrected some of the mistakes I made in Cairo at the Africa Senior Championship,” he said.
He added: “My target is to win the both the U-21 and the men’s singles by God’s grace. I know I had to focus throughout the tournament because there is nothing impossible in table tennis and in life.”
For Onaolapo, the Egyptians would not have their way in Lagos. “I am not seeing the Egyptians as threats to my ambition because losing in Cairo has been forgotten. But I am in good mood to take on any of them and for me to overcome them, I just have to believe in myself because they are beatable,” he said.
As the defending champion of the U-21 event, Onaolapo said he is hoping for Nigeria’s dominance in the competition. “I believe I can make good impact in the tournament because I am now 100 percent ready because I started my training after the Cairo tournament. There is no doubt that Nigerian players, led by ITTF Star Player, Aruna Quadri, can dominate the tournament. But I know the Egyptians are not pushovers so we should not look down on them. Other European players are also going to be tough,” Onaolapo said.
Unlike Onaolapo who has something to show for his efforts in 2014, Omotayo failed to dazzle the Lagos fans after he was bundled out of the tournament early having being considered as the next big thing in Africa table tennis circuit.
“I know that this year’s tournament will be more competitive because the Egyptians are coming with most of their best players and I am optimistic that Nigerian players will give them a run for the title. We are hoping to do what the Egyptian did at the justconcluded ITTF Africa Senior Championships,” he said.
With the presence of the current ITTF Star Player, Aruna Quadri and Africa champion, Egypt’s Omar Assar, Omotayo believes they would inspire him to aim high.
“I believe I can make an impact at the tournament because I have been looking for an opportunity like this, which I think it will spur me to give my 100 per cent participating alongside Quadri, Assar and so many more. For me it is an honour to have the 2014 ITTFF male best player in our midst,” Omotayo said.
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