39 players jostle for places in Commonwealth Games

THIRTY-NINE home-based players selected by the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) are now competing in the ongoing National Sports Commission (NSC)-organised Commonwealth Games trials holding at the Liberty Stadium in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

The players were selected from the 60 invited to camp by NTTF last week and the number would be further pruned down before the final selection when the foreign-based will compete alongside the home-based. Both Lateef Sunmola and Richards Edem will oversee the exercise, while the NSC will take care of the players throughout the three-day trials.

According to NTTF scribe, Segun Oguntade, the trials is necessary to give the players, both at home and abroad, equal opportunity to prove their worth if they hope to make the team to India come October. He said: “We want to ensure that the best hands are selected for the championship because we cannot afford to lower our standard at the Games.

“We have always been among the top three teams at the Games since table tennis was introduced at the 2002 Manchester Games in United Kingdom (UK). The federation has reduced the number of players and we are hoping that the NSC will also make its selection from the ones we had made so that the ones chosen would compete with the foreign-based during the final trials.”

However, Oguntade said that for now, the players selected were the best the nation could boast of, stressing that Nigeria could still hold sway in India with adequate preparation. He stated: “In previous Games, we have remained among the top nations and it will be bad if we don’t maintain our status as one of the best among the Commonwealth nations.

“So, with this trials, we will surely pick the best players that will do the nation proud in India. For us, being among the top three nations has become a tradition and we cannot allow this to be broken this year. Segun Toriola and Monday Merotohun are major forces in the game at the Commonwealth Games. I believe with the injection of fresh hands we can continue our dominance at the Games.”

Among the players taking part in the trials are Aruna Quadri, Jide Ogidiolu, Gbenga Anthony, Ojo Onaolapo and Kazeem Makanjuola. The females are Ganiat Ogundele, Olaide Atinuke, Ganiat Olatunde, Rashidat Ogundele, Tolu Durosimi-Etti and a host of others.

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