In the 1980s and 1990s, Atanda Musa was a household name within and outside Nigeria for his unique style of play which endeared him to the heart of table tennis fans in Africa.
Atanda Musa, now 57, was a player with a ferocious forehand which most times confused his opponent and he was very popular among young Nigerians who were fond of emulating his style of play.
One of such Nigerians is Aruna Quadri, whose global status may have erased the popularity of Atanda Musa in the mind of table tennis lovers across the continent.
However, Aruna Quadri who has set new height not only for Nigerian players but for Africans, still admits that Atanda Musa remains the best.
After idolising Atanda Musa for many years, Aruna Quadri has now surpassed his role model in every ramifications and tipped by many to be a potential Olympic medalist, Aruna Quadri feels that he is still nowhere close to Atanda.
“I think during the time of Atanda Musa, table tennis became more popular in Africa and Nigeria. He is one of the greatest ever from Nigeria. After his time, the sport did not do well for some time. But the situation is better now. I have won many medals and laurels. But what he (Atanda) did for the sport is unique. For many like me, he was an inspiration. He was there to look up to when nobody knew about table tennis,” Aruna told India Express on the sidelines of the inaugural function of the Ultimate Table Tennis league that starts from July 13 in Chennai.
“My talent in table tennis helped me land a job with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). But I have lived in Europe for most of my career and have rarely been there. I only go there when military tournaments happen because I have to represent the Corps,” he said.
On what his quarterfinal feat at the Rio Olympic Games has fetched him, Aruna Quadri said: “I’ve made some friends and fans. [It is] one of the best things [to happen] in my life. I am not as popular as the President of the country! [Certainly] not as popular as the footballers. [But] on my own, I am some kind of a household name,” he said.
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