Seven-time Olympian and Africa’s most successful table tennis player, Segun Toriola, has been acknowledged for his longevity by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) as the former African champion will be making his 21st appearance at the 2019 World Championship holding in Budapest, Hungary on April 21 to 29.
Toriola made his maiden appearance at the 1991 edition of the championship in Chiba, Japan.
According to ITTF, this year’s tournament will see record numbers of participation: the 609 players representing 109 National Associations mark an increase on previous record figures posted at the last individual World Table Tennis Championships held in Dusseldorf, Germany in 2017.
The world table tennis ruling body said the growth forms a positive step ahead of the ITTF introducing an expanded World Championships format in 2021, which aims to increase National Association participation of 47 percent closer to 100 percent global representation as more players will have a greater opportunity to take part thanks to the new World Championship stages.
In Africa, Toriola has the record appearance at the tournament while Belarus’ Vladimir Samsonov will be making his 23rd World Championships – a record among current players.
As Africa’s best playing nations – Nigeria and Egypt will be leading 11 other African nations to the global showpiece in the ancient city of Budapest.
Other African nations heading to the party in Hungary are Algeria, Benin Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, Congo DRC, Cameroun, Djibouti, Ghana, Mauritius, Sierra Leone and Togo.
Aruna Quadri, ranked 25th in the world, represents Africa’s big hope in the men’s Singles, with Egypt’s Dina Meshref- the continent’s biggest name in the women’s singles.
Thirty-eight years old world no. 5, Timo Boll of Germany will be making his 19th World Championships career appearance in Budapest.