The Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, has advised Nigerian athletes to emulate the performance of three leading table tennis stars: Segun Toriola, Aruna Quadri and Funke Oshonaike.
The minister gave the advice on Monday in Abuja in a statement issued by Nneka Anibeze his Special Assistant on Media,
He said that the performance of the trio at the just concluded ITTF Africa Senior Championship in Agadir, Morocco was remarkable and a pride to the nation.
He noted with satisfaction that Oshonaike reclaimed her African women’s singles title at the Championships 24 years after winning it.
He added that the duo of Aruna Quadri and Segun Toriola defeated Egypt to hold on to the men’s doubles.
Quadri and Toriola defeated Egyptians El-Sayed Lashin and Ahmed Saleh 4-2 to give Nigeria its first gold medal in the chamapionship.
Dalung said that the ability of Toriola and Oshinaike to remain competitive at the continental stage at 41 years, was prove that an athlete could remain relevant for a long time if he or she is disciplined.
He added that Oshinaike’s performance in the competition where she won the mixed doubles silver alongside Segun Toriola and a gold medal in the women singles was a pointer to that fact.
“There is nothing like impossible with the right levels of preparation, mental strength and the desire to win,’’ he said.
The minister commended the world number 3, Quadri for sustaining the winning tempo after the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I am aware of his inability to cart home the coveted men singles trophy after narrowly losing to Egypt’s Omar Assar.
“In sports, you win some and lose some.”
“I encourage you to quickly dust yourself from the defeat and bounce back stronger and better,’’ Dalung said,
He called on other sport federations to emulate the `self sufficient stance’ of Nigeria Table Tennis Federation.
He stressed the need for sports federations to establish vibrant marketing department saddled with sourcing for funds to run their activities while the government would continue to create the enabling environment for sports to thrive.