Olajide Omotayo, An Inspiration For Nigerian Table Tennis

(Photo: ITTF)

One of the brightest table tennis stars to hail from Nigeria, Olajide Omotayo secured qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in February of this year.

Now, a few months on from that incredible day, Olajide Omotayo has been looking back at his career to date and how he has overcome all the difficulties life has thrown his way.

At the age of 13, Omotayo was already a growing talent for Nigerian table tennis. Making his debut at the 2008 African Juniors in Egypt, just five years later, Omotayo became one of the highest ranked African table tennis players at the prestigious event. But it wasn’t an easy upbringing as the Lagos star explained in an insightful interview with the Olympic Channel:

“So many things happened around me. Riots, living around criminals. So, when I got the opportunity that could shape my life, I used it well. It’s like life was trying to pull me down. I allowed this to get into my head. I was depressed.” – Olajide Omotayo

Omotayo was 20 years old when his exciting career took a sharp turn for the worse. Having failed to qualify for the 2015 African Games, he lost all confidence in his ability, as well as motivation to continue through the tough times, seeing him slip into “deep depression” for a time, as well as wanting to start a new life outside of the sport. However, the Lagos international picked himself up, and began working on fulfilling his dreams once again.

An outsider in the race for 2019 African Games glory, Omotayo defied the odds on his African Games debut to put his disappointments from 2015 behind him. Beating Segun Toriola, one of Nigeria’s longest-serving players, in the last four, Omotayo then produced a fantastic display against another of his country’s legendary figures in Quadri Aruna (13-11, 11-9, 16-14, 8-11, 12-14, 12-10) to lift the men’s singles trophy in Rabat, Morocco.

(Photo: ITTF)

Then, in February 2020, the Nigerian achieved one of sport’s ultimate goals, qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It was an emotional experience for Omotayo for he had secured his chance to represent his country on the biggest of stages:

“What if I had quit playing table tennis? Look at what I have now achieved! I now have self-confidence and belief that I can be whatever I want.” – Olajide Omotayo

Olajide Omotayo journey serves not just as an inspiration to the aspiring athletes from Nigeria and the African continent as a whole – but to us all.

Currently quarantined in Italy, where he plays his club table tennis, Omotayo took to Instagram to show off a fun and creative new way to play during the Coronavirus pandemic. All you need is a table, net, ball and a medal!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Stay active guys #stayhome#covid19#olympics #challengeaccepted #tennis#funnymemes#tiktok#italy#stayhome #marlians#staysafe#

A post shared by olajide omotayo (@officialolajideomotayo) on

Source: Olympic Channel

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