Olajide Omotayo, a colourful master with lofty Olympics dreams

Posted : 05 December 2023

For the 28-year-old Table Tennis Star, Olajide Omotayo Adeyemi, table tennis is a passion. Fate had it that he was introduced to the sport by his elder sister, Omobolanle Omotayo, a one-time national table tennis champion.

 

Since then, Olajide Omotayo Adeyemi has not looked back. He kicked off his career in table tennis playing for a local club, the Summer Table Tennis club, in his neighborhood in Somolu Area, Lagos State.

 

He was discovered by Lagos State and subsequently represented his school in the Lagos State Table Tennis Competition for Primary Schools and the National School Sports Competition at the tender age of 9. He started representing Nigeria at international competitions at 11.

 

In 2008, he represented Nigeria at the All African Junior Table Tennis Championships in Alexandria, Egypt, where he won Bronze.

 

In the table tennis circuit, Olajide Omotayo Adeyemi, also known as Jehdor, is the only male star with the boldness to defeat Nigeria's most decorated table tennis sensation, Aruna Quadri. He achieved this feat in 2019 when he miraculously won the gold medal in the Men's Singles at the 2019 African Games, his debut appearance.

 

Omotayo secures five-year -deal with Gewo | The Nation Newspaper

 

Born on July 6, 1995, in Lagos, Nigeria, Olajide Omotayo Adeyemi has since seen his fortune rise in the ping pong game and now plies his trade in Italy.

 

He rose to the highest peak in the World Table Tennis (WTT) rankings when he peaked at the 85th position but is now outside the top 100.

 

Known for his offensive playing style with a strong topspin stroke, Olajide had his first stint in the international scene in 2008 when he played as a cadet athlete at the 2008 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) African Junior and Cadet Championships held in Alexandria, Egypt.

 

Before that, he represented Nigeria at the 2016 African Championship (doubles event) and the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia, winning Bronze and silver, respectively.

 

In 2017, Olajide Omotayo Adeyemi secured a five-year sponsorship deal with the German manufacturer of kits, Gewo. Following his sterling performances, he was nominated for the Nigerian Sportsman of the Year Award by the ITTF in 2019.

 

He has since established himself as a key member of Nigeria's senior table Tennis Team at several international tournaments.

 

In one of his interviews, Olajide Omotayo Adeyemi did not hide his aspiration to break into the Top 50 ranked players in the world.

 

However, he suffered a slip in his career when he failed to qualify for the 2015 African Games after losing a crucial game during the trials. He couldn't return to his club in Italy at the time and was on the verge of quitting table tennis completely. He later confessed that his mentor Quadri Aruna's record-breaking qualification for the Rio 2016's Olympic Games quarter-finals gave him hope to fight back.

 

In 2018, Olajide picked one of the tickets to represent Nigeria at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and was part of the five male table tennis players selected, including Bode Abiodun, Azeez Jamiu, Quadri Aruna, and veteran player, Segun Toriola. Nigeria won silver after losing to the Indian Team in the finals.

 

In the African Championship in Mauritius in 2018, Olajide featured in the tournament and reached the semi-finals, but he lost to compatriot Quadri Aruna.

 

In 2019, he participated in the ITTF World Team Cup as part of the Nigerian Team that played against Team China. Unfortunately, the Nigerian team exited the competition.

 

Olajide Omotayo Adeyemi qualified for Men's Singles at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but was defeated in the first round by Tiago Apolónia in four straight sets.

 

Despite his early elimination from the Durban 2023 World Table Tennis Championships, Olajide Omotayo vowed to atone for it at the next WTT Contender Lagos.

 

His greatest worry in the game, he claimed, is that the lack of sponsorships has been the bane of sports development in Nigeria.

 

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