With Animashaun, Umar, Nigeria’s future is bright, says Toriola
AFRICA’s former number one tennis player, Segun Toriola, has dismissed the threat supposedly posed by both Egypt and Congo to Nigeria in the table tennis event of the All Africa Games scheduled to hold next month in Congo Brazzaville.
The Nigerian star, who was ranked number one in Africa between 1998 and June 2008, said the fear nursed by some Nigerians will spur his team to training more to achieve a good outing at the Games.
The table tennis event has seven gold medals, right now what we are planning to do is to work harder in order to win as many medals as possible.
These Egyptians and the Congolese are the same players we meet at competitions, except for the Chinese who have been included in the Congo Brazzaville’s squad.
They have four Chinese both in the male and female categories. It’s only with the inclusion of the Chinese that we may face a challenge. It’s not something that we are really afraid of. All of us in the team are professional players with lots of experience.
That is why we are trying to train very well.” Toriola, who has represented Nigeria at six Olympic Games, however, expressed joy over some emerging future table tennis stars.
He enthused: “Already, we have young stars who are ready to step into our shoes as soon as we leave the scene of the sport that has brought us fame. “There is this boy, Abayomi Animashaun, who I think is one of the stars that will emerge in the next four to five years.
The future of that boy is very bright, but what is very important now is how to really take care of him. “Animashaun is playing very well.
I remember when I was at his age, I don’t think I played the way he is doing right now. We are trying to see how we can handle him, which is very important.
He, himself, knows now that he is good and we don’t want that to disturb him. “We are trying to draw up a training programme for him on what to do and that is very important. This is one of the reasons he has been with us during our preparation towards the Games.
It’s not that he is going to be with us in Congo Brazzaville, but we invited him to learn with another player, Ibrahim Umar, for them to experience what the training camp is like in the senior team.”
Toriola revealed that he has counseled Animashaun to take his game seriously because “he is not only going to be Nigerian champion, but also rule Africa in the nearest future. I told him in China that I give him five years. With proper handling and training, the boy will rule both Nigeria and Africa in the nearest future.”