Now a household name, the rare talent, who is the first African to be named World table tennis player of the year 2014’s rapid growth in the world of tennis began when he met a man who used to have a table tennis center. He took him in and the rest they say is history.
Quadri Aruna, the Nigerian table tennis player competed for Nigeria at the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2016 Summer Olympics, reaching the quarter-finals in the latter competition. The attacker at the World Cup 2014, reached the quarter finals in the Men’s Singles competition. In the same year, he was ranked number 30 in world table tennis, and the International Table Tennis Federation named him the Star Player of the year.
His highest world ranking was 25, which he held from September 2016 to January 2017. Currently, he is ranked 27th in the ITTF male world rankings. He was also part of the Nigerian team that won bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Aruna is a member of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps. He is married to another table tennis player. Quadri attended Oba Adeyemi High School, Oyo State, where he represented the school, Oyo East Local Government Area and Oyo State at various table tennis competitions. At club level, he represents Sporting CP. Aruna entered the Men’s Singles event at the 2016 Summer Olympics as seed number 27.
In the first round, he played and defeated Slovakian player Wang Yang (4-1). In the second round, Aruna played number 5 seed Chuang Chih-yuan. Chuang grew repeatedly frustrated as the match went on, uncharacteristically missing his signature forehand attacks and was at a loss against Aruna’s unorthodox style. Aruna defeated Chaung in arguably the biggest upset of the tournament without losing a single set (4-0). In the third round, Aruna faced world renowned German player, Timo Boll. Remarkably, Aruna defeated Boll (4-2), earning him a spot in the Quarter Finals. In the Quarter Finals, Aruna faced the tournament’s number one seed, Chinese player Ma Long. Long overwhelmed Aruna with fast pace, looping attacks.
The match proved entertaining as Aruna was forced to play defensively and back from the table, providing some memorable rallies. Ultimately however, long swept Aruna to move onto the Semis (0-4). Aruna’s run in Singles event of the 2016 Olympic games was quite easily the most remarkable achievement of his career at the world level. Having upset number 5 seed, semi-finalist in the previous Olympics, and 4-time World Tour Champion as well as 10-time runner up, Aruna then also upset a European legend in Boll.
Although Aruna was swept by eventual winner Ma Long, it should be noted. In the 2017 ITTF World Challenge Bulgaria Open he advanced to the semi-finals where he was defeated in a tight match by eventual winner Dimitrij Ovtcharov. Aruna is known for his forehand oriented playing style, which enables him to get lots of winners. He is a Joola sponsored player. that Long went onto sweep the Gold medal match as well. He was the only African competitor to make in to the fourth round.
Aruna competed for his home country of Nigeria alongside Segun Toriola and Bode Abiodun. The team seeded against Team China in the first round, in which Aruna played and was defeated by Ma long (1-3). The team dropped all three matches to China and were eliminated (0-3). Aruna competed in the 2017 ITTF African-Cup, qualifying for the quarter finals where he defeated Algerias Naim Karali (4-1). In the semifinals, Aruna defeated Egyptian player Mohamed El-beiali (4-3), qualifying for the finals. In the Finals, Aruna played and defeated long-time rival Omar Assar in a close match (4-3). Aruna won the event, and become the 2017 African-Cup Champion. Aruna competed in the World Championships seeded as number 30. He defeated Chilean player Gustavo Gómez (4-0). He was defeated in the second round by Danish player and number 34 seed, Jonathan Groth.
Aruna competed in the 2018 ITTF African-Cup, placing first in group 2, allowing him to qualify for the Quarter Finals. In the Quarter Finals, Aruna defeated Derek Abrefa (4-0). In the Semi Finals, he defeated Ahmed Saleh (4-1), allowing him to advance to the finals of the African-Cup. The 2018 African-Cup Finals featured two of the only African players within the top 50 of the ITTF World Rankings, 2015 and 2016 Champion Omar Assar against reigning 2017 Champion Aruna. Assar, seeking retribution for last years defeat, played a very aggressive attacking game, winning the first two games with close scores, (10-12 and 8-11). The third game, entailed a dominant performance from Aruna, attacking Assar relentlessly (11-3).
In the forth game, Assar targeted Arunas deep forehand forcing Aruna to play much more uncomfortably than the previous games, though Assar lost some points in an earnest attempt to end rallies early. Assar took the game (11-13). Aruna won the following two games (11-9 and 11-6), tying the two up 3-3. In the final game, Assar took an early lead 3-7, following a few well placed shots and missed attacks from Aruna. Aruna rallied back into an 8-10 deficit, before losing the final point on a failed forehand loop (3-4). The loss placed Aruna Second in the 2018 African-Cup. The crowd has been noted as particularly invested in the match between these two rivals. The rivalry extends beyond the two world class players, into the feud for African Table Tennis supremacy between Egypt and Nigeria, having both produced some of the continents strongest players over the last decade (Segun Toriola, Monday Merotohun, Olufunke Oshonaike, Dina Meshref, El-sayed Lashin, among others.). This emotion is highlighted in the matches aftermath as Assar celebrated to the cheers of his fans a top the table.
Aruna Quadri won the outstanding Sportsman of the year award at the 2018 Nigerian Sports Award.
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