The oldest table-tennis player at the National Sport Festival (NSF), Maya Taofik of Oyo State has attributed his triumph over more-exposed duo of Segun Toriola and Funke Oshonaike in the mixed doubles to self-belief. Taofik and Ajala Funmilola of Oyo state defeated highly-rated Toriola and Oshonaike of Akwa Ibom state in the mixed doubles.

Asked how he was able to achieve the surprise win, he explains in Yoruba:

“Because I believe. Reason being that I am an old man. That is why they will be scared, and I will gain confidence. I have retired; I just decided to play again. I haven’t been to the national camp since 2001 and its a long time ago. I just felt I should play for them. I am determined to surprise all those young players. That is why I am here.

“I have featured in the Festival around 1989. I won a medal. I was the one who won gold at that time.”

His target in Abuja 2018 is clear!

“Gold by God’s grace. I am here because of gold,” he declares.

After seeing off heavyweights, Toriola and Oshonaike, the 56 year old is eyeing the final.

“By God’s grace, I will get to the final. I have the confidence. I am the old man. They are the one that will be nervy. I don’t have anything to lose, but many of my opponents have something to lose because I am no more called up to (national team) camp. I am confident as regards that.”

Asked if he can juggle both singles and doubles to claim top glory, Maya remains optimistic:

“We will get to the finals. For the singles (too), I am confident I will reach the final.”

On his doubles partner, Funmilola, Maya states:

“We are playing well, but I am the one encouraging her on how to return service. I told her not to worry; that she should just make sure she return it successfully.”

Toriola and Oshonaike, between them boast of 13 Olympic Games appearances, but Maya insists he wasn’t worried.

“We met almost 25 years ago before we competed again today. But I have the confidence that I am going to win. I told Funmilola not to worry, that we are going to win the game. They are the one that would be feeling anxiety because they are the foreign pros.”

On whether he will go into retirement again or delve into coaching after this edition of the NSF, he simply put:

“Everything is in God’s hands.”


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