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Table Tennis: Quadri Begins Honour’s Quest in India



African champion, Aruna Quadri, with 47 top players will on Thursday at the Nehru Stadium in Chennai begin quest for honours in the lucrative CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis League in India.

Quadri will be leading Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas against DHFL Maharashtra United led by World No. 8, Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, who will also be joined by women’s No. 22, Austria’s Liu Jia, along with Portugal’s Joao Monteiro and Fu Yu, who are both part of the top 50 in the men’s and women’s category respectively.

A confident Aruna Quadri of Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas spoke about what he was looking forward to, “I’m very happy to be here and also very excited. It’s going to be one of the best leagues in the world.

The format of play is very interesting. All the players in each team will be difficult to play. We’re looking forward to the table tennis action.”

Quadri’s teammate, Manika Batra, concurred with the Nigerian, “I’m very excited to play this league, it’ll be fun, and a chance to play with higher-ranked players.


Armed with confidence and optimism ahead of what promises to be a gripping inaugural CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis season, Kamlesh Mehta, Director of Eleven Sports and representatives from each team took to the stage for a quick questions and answers session. It was the pre-season press conference and the theme revolved around excitement, as the players were visibly amped with the league just around the corner.

Kamlesh Mehta expressed his joy at the fruition of a dream, “It’s a matter of pride to announce what was a dream has today become a reality.

“Thanks to the support we’ve received when we envisaged this particular assignment. Wherever we went we got very good response and very good support. The first place was of course the Table Tennis Federation of India; along with them we also approached the Asian Table Tennis Federation.

“We got resounding and very good support from them. 11even Sports founder Mrs. Vita Dani and Niraj Bajaj, an Arjuna Awardee himself have really given us strength to go ahead,’’ Mehta said.

“And with all your support, I’m sure we’ll reach out to table tennis fans across India and abroad and that is the aim of Ultimate Table Tennis – to bring table tennis to a level that we’ll all be proud of. I’m very happy with Chennai being the first city of this historic event because it’s one of cities that has had a very strong legacy in table tennis of producing national champions over so many decades.


“Now some of the best players are coming from Chennai in every category and that’s another plus point. We wish all the players the best, they put their best foot forward and play the best table tennis,’’ Mehta concluded.

Next, it was time for a man who’s been there and done that to take centre-stage. Indian maestro Sharath Kamal commented on the format of the league and more, “It’s a shorter format than what we usually play.

“It’s nine matches, but only three games will be played, normally we play a best of five or a best of seven in the international matches but here we’ll play only three games.

“I think the format by itself makes every team use all its players and all its players contribute to the success of the team. You cannot have just one or two players strong and win the tie.

“It’s very important that all the players contribute and I think personally as far as Indian players are concerned, it’s a very good platform where we play foreign players and we’ll also play one of the mixed doubles, so we’ll have enough matches where the Indians are also playing against the foreign players, I think it’s a good mixture.


CEAT UTT has revolutionized the sport with its unique format. Dabang Smashers TTC’s Marcos Freitas was then asked about table tennis now being more of a team sport, “Table tennis is an individual sport, but of course we have doubles, mixed doubles so it’s always nice to have partners with us and it’s a big team here. It’s interesting to try new things and it’ll be very entertaining for spectators and for us, the players too.

The excellent Sabine Winter of RP-SG Mavericks spoke about her expectations, “I expect the matches to be interesting for the spectators. I’m looking forward to it. We have a good atmosphere in the team and I’m excited about the next three weeks.

The veteran Sharath Kamal gave his perspective about the exposure that the league will bring, “If the league would’ve started 15 years ago, I would have stayed back in India (laughs). I think it’s a great exposure for the youngsters, especially the upcoming Indian players who will be training with the top players of the world.

“They can learn a lot, experience what it takes to reach the top of the world. It’ll be a great exposure for Indian table tennis at the international level and I hope if we can continue at this level, India will probably also be a strong nation in the forthcoming years in table tennis”.

Portuguese expert Marcos Freitas threw in his thoughts, “I think it’s a really exciting league, it’s a new concept in table tennis, something I’ve never participated in before. I think it’ll be interesting.


“All the teams are very good, every team is strong. There’s not one team that everybody can call a ‘favourite.’ I think all the teams can win, so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes. I hope I play very well for my team – the Dabang Smashers. And I hope we finish very high”.

Freitas’ teammate, Madurika Patkar, also voiced her enthusiasm, “I’m really excited to be a part of the first edition of CEAT UTT. Till now, in India, we’ve seen many leagues coming up in cricket, football, badminton, kabaddi, hockey – I think it’s a great opportunity for all the players and it’s a big league for the Indian players. It’ll be fun with the format and I have a great team and looking forward to it.

DHFL Maharashtra United’s Pooja Sahasrabudhe had this to say about the league, “I think the league has already become popular for table tennis players around the world and TT lovers within the country.

“I’m very excited and looking forward to it. The players from different countries will get exposure and experience different styles of play. I think every team is equally strong and balanced so it all depends on the best strategy, planning, and who plays better. Let’s cross the fingers for Maharashtra United”.

While her partner Wong Chung Ting echoed his thoughts, “I’m very excited to play this tournament with many top players. This is my second visit to India and I’m ready”.


Indian star, Soumyajit Ghosh will turn out for the Shaze Challengers and was looking forward to a great few weeks in his homeland, “I’m really happy to play in my country and it’s really exciting! Hopefully, it’ll be great for my team and we’ll give it our best. This platform is really good for Indian players to perform and show the world our talent and we have the opportunity to play with foreign players. Hopefully, we’ll do well”.

Wu Yang would be making her debut in India, “This is the first time I’m playing in this system and it’ll be exciting. I hope everybody has fun”.

Han Ying of the Shaze Challengers said, “I’m very happy to be here in India with the Indian as well as the foreign players”.

Emerging Indian star Sanil Shetty also expressed his excitement, “I’m very happy to be a part of CEAT UTT. For me, it’s full of surprises, fun, excitement, emotions; I hope every sports lover will love it. I’m happy to be a part of Falcons TTC. We have a good, balanced team with some European technique and Asian skills”.

With stars foreign and domestic, eager to get going with all the action, CEAT UTT promises to be a spectacle like never before.




Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Stolen Ferrari Recovered Almost 30 Years Later –



Stolen Ferrari Recovered Almost 30 Years Later -

A Ferrari Testarossa sports car stolen from Austrian Formula One driver Gerhard Berger during the 1995 San Marino Grand Prix weekend has been recovered by London police almost 29 years later.

The Metropolitan Police said on Monday the red F512M, worth some 350,000 pounds ($444,325.00), was tracked down in four days after Ferrari reported it was the one being sold through a British broker to a U.S. buyer.

Police enquiries found it was shipped to Japan shortly after being stolen from the Italian city of Imola and then arrived in Britain in late 2023.

The Organised Vehicle Crime Unit said enquiries were ongoing and no arrests had been made.

A second silver Ferrari F355 that belonged to Berger’s French former team mate Jean Alesi, which was stolen on the same weekend in the Italian city, remains missing.


Alesi finished second in the race won by Williams’ Damon Hill with Berger third, in the Ferrari drivers’ final season at the Italian team before the arrival of Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine.

Berger had caught the thief in the act of stealing his car but after jumping clear and then giving chase in a friend’s Volkswagen Golf, according to a news report at the time, was unable to prevent it from getting away.




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Nigeria’s Minster of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung has congratulated the newly elected board of the Nigeria Olympic Committee NOC after a successful elective congress.

In a congratulatory message, Dalung hailed the delegates for conducting peaceful and credible elections and choosing leaders with passion for sports.

He charged the NOC to look at areas that have been abandoned like training of coaches and referees in other to return Nigeria’s sports sector to its rightful position.

“I congratulate you on the successful conduct of elections into the NOC board. The next step is to look at the development of manpower and technical hands. We need to train more coaches and update them with modern techniques of coaching. 

“The NOC must develop a partnership and also source for funds to ensure that we increase the number of coaches we have in Nigeria and ensure that they compete favorably with their counterparts in other countries.


“They should also ensure the training of referees, umpires and judges because of their role in global sports. Most times Nigerian referees and umpires are left out of the scheme of officiating at international competitions and that affects our result and performance outside the shores of Nigeria.”

The Minister had earlier in an opening remark at the NOC Annual General Meeting held at the Government House, Yola, urged state governments to contribute more to sports development by giving a percentage of their security vote to sports.

Dalung also used the occasion to thank Presidents of National Sports Federations and state Directors of Sports for their active role in ensuring a successful National Sports Festival in Abuja.

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On this week’s episode of AfricanVoices, CNN International explores the growing interest in contact sports in Africa by meeting athletes from Nigeria, South Africa and Senegal.

Growing up in Aiochi, Nigeria, UFC Fighter Kamaru Usman remembers how the struggles he faced as a child helped prepare him for the hard work it takes to be a champion.

He tells CNN: “I remember the streets, I remember having to walk what seemed like miles to fetch water from the wells with my grandmother. I recall the hard work that my family went through just to continue to live the lifestyle that we were living, which wasn’t by any means a great lifestyle.”

For Usman, a spiritual belief has helped him maintain his conviction, he explains: “I believe in fate. I believe in karma. For me, it’s whatever God has in store for me. If God said that this was how you get that title shot, I don’t want to be the guy to say, “Oh, well, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t prepared.” I wanted to make sure that I was prepared because I don’t know God’s plan. Maybe God wanted me to get it a certain other way, but I’m gonna do everything in my power to make sure thatI’m a champion.”

African Voices meets Usman in Dallas, Texas as he trains to become a champion. He tells CNN about the work he does to remain competitive: “I had to diet, I had to go through the whole training camp. I had to put my body through that stress and just the rigorous training that you go through. I went through all of it and then I had to step on the scale and make the weight.”


Usman not only trains to be successful but also helps encourage other athletes in Africa. He explains: “When it’s training time, we push each other and do anything to help each other and when it’s fight time we’re always there for each other. If I see you doing something that’s wrong or I see something that can help you change your game I’m going to always give those tips especially with another of my African brothers. We eat the same food, we come from the same walks of life, so it’s a different bond.”

On his future in the sport, Usman tells CNN about his aspirations: “In a couple years from now in this sport, I will be the champion.

“I would have defended the belt a few times. Secured or solidified my place in the hall of fame as one of the greatest to ever do this, and all the while inspiring not just Africans, but inspiring kids across the world that have a similar story to myself.”

Another athlete African Voices also meets is Women’s Flyweight and Bantamweight champion Amanda “Mad Dog” Lino from South Africa. She explains to CNN what encouraged her to be the champion she is today: “Something that really changed my life would have to be losing my f ather.

“You know that really brought focus and dedication into my life because going through a struggle and losing someone that you love would make you focus on what you need to on a day to day basis. I think that it’s most shaped me and made me realize that life wasn’t all about having fun and not focusing.”


Lino explains how criticism she faced encouraged her to work harder: “Everyone kept telling me girls are never going to be successful in MMA, it’s a man’s sport or it’s a boy’s sport… So being the competitive person or the one to push boundaries, I was like well no, I’m going to make sure that female athletes get into MMA and make a difference.”

The final athlete African Voices meets is Olympic Taekwondo athlete Balla Dieye from Senegal. He tells CNN about the challenges he has faced in the sport: “Before, when you start Taekwondo in Senegal it was very difficult because it’s not our culture. When you show some people, I make Taekwondo, they say, “What’s Taekwondo?” [they] thinks its karate. Because [they] see movies from Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. But now,it’s different now. We know this is karate, this is Taekwondo.”

Dieya tells the programme about his experience at one of the biggest sporting competitions in the world: “When I goto Olympics, I [was] training for six hours a day. And four hours for me is physical preparation and two hours is only from sparring…. We do all exercise here.  If you have your body very strong then you’re going to fight easy.You need flexibility, you need speed, and you need those strong, power for scoring.”

On his future hopes Dieye tells CNN: “I need Olympic medals now, this is dream for my taekwondo. In Senegal everybody waiting this medal. All sport. Everybody waiting the next medal for taekwondo, the next medal in Senegal. Why I [am] pushing a lot this new generation, I give my motivation, I give my time, I give my energy to make focus for this medal… I think the dream is coming soon.”

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