Nigeria’s Segun Toriola has opted out of the forthcoming International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour, Lagos Open after his French club – Argentan Bayard – failed to release him.
The $46,000-prize-money championship which serves off on March 10 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium will not have the Olympian participating.
His club has a crucial game against Roanne lntt on March 10 and Toriola said that the exit of one of Argentan Bayard’s top players forced them to take the decision.
“My club did not agree to release me because they believe so much in me and what I can deliver at the league. The tournament came at a time when I can’t leave my base,” he said.
“We had a Chinese player, who was playing for our team toward the end of last year but he was sacked because of poor performance so that onus now rest on me to lift the team.
“On March 10 when the Lagos ITTF World Tour will kick off, we are to face Roanne lntt and we tried to appeal to our opponent to postpone the match but they refused our request. This has made impossible for me to leave the team because I cannot play a match on March 10 and travel again to Lagos on March 11, it will be too stressful for me.
Toriola, one of Africa’s most decorated player, thereby appealed to his fans to bear with him and understand his plight for his inability to attend the tour.
“I know my fans will be expecting me in Lagos and would be disappointed knowing that I am not coming. I appeal to them to please bear with me and understand that I would have loved to take part in the competition,” he said.
The chairman of Athletes’ Committee of the Africa Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) said that he is confident that his compatriots would perform well against the visitors.
“I have told them that believing in themselves and this is the only way they can make it. I wish them the best at the tournament and promise to keep praying for them,” he said.
Some of the countries taking part in the Lagos Open are Egypt, Portugal, Russia, Republic of Benin, Cameroon, Congo DRC, Djibouti, Sierra Leone, Togo, and the host, Nigeria.