By Adeyemi Robinson-Adefioye, Lagos
As a junior player, 22-year-old Olajide Omotayo was a delight to watch and after working his way into the senior national team coupled with his scintillating performance at the 2017 World championships in Germany, the Italy-based star is growing in confidence ahead of the 2017 ITTF Nigeria Open ‘Lagos 2017’.
As an outsider, Olajide Omotayo fought his way from the preliminary of the 2017 World Championships in Dusseldorf to berth in the first round of the men’s singles. His performance against Romania’s Cristian Pletea showed the worth of the Nigerian whose display in recent time has given the West African nation something to hope for in the game.
With regular training in Lagos in the last two months, coupled with input from Aruna Quadri, Olajide Omotayo is eagerly looking forward to the Nigerian Open with a lot of optimism.
“I am in good form at present because I have been training very well after the world championship. I have not missed my training in the last two months while I increased my schedule with training and pep talk from Aruna Quadri. Prior to this, I train every day apart from weekend with my doubles partner, Ojo Onaolapo. All these have given me hope that I am going to achieve something from the Nigerian Open this year,” he said.
Despite the presence of top stars, Olajide Omotayo however, acknowledged the qualities of Li Ping, Aruna Quadri, Omar Assar and Benedek Olah, but believes he can surprise many in Lagos.
“The top four players in this competition are world class but in table tennis anything is possible. So I am looking forward to qualifying from the preliminary to the main draw, which I believe is possible. After then, I am also looking beyond the last 32 which I finished last year because this year, my game has improved coupled with the support from Aruna Quadri whom has been teaching me some tactics. Also, I think I have prepared very well for this tournament this year and without mincing words, my target is to win the men’s singles. I have also realised that table tennis is not won by ranking but by what you can do on table in a particular match,” he added.
Apart from his optimism, Olajide Omotayo, is excited on the prospect of playing against some of the best while lauding the organisers for raising the profile of the tournament with an improvement annually.
“I think I must commend the organisers of this competition for always bringing innovation to the tournament every year. This year, we have quality players coupled with an improvement in the number of the countries. This is good for the players in terms of helping us in our world ranking,” he enthused.