The dream of competing at any Olympic Games is the pinnacle for many athletes.
In Team Nigeria’s contingent to Tokyo are a couple of first-timers and one of them is the 26-year-old Olajide Omotayo.
While Omotayo has rightly been identified as one of the first-timers to look out for in Tokyo, the table tennis star has opened up on his inspiring switch from someone battling depression to becoming a celebrated Olympian.
In a lengthy post on his Facebook page, Omotayo revealed the inside details of his four-year journey to Tokyo and all the sacrifices he made to achieve a dream that initially looked impossible.
He wrote, “It took me 4 years to get to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. A few years ago I was battling depression, gave up on playing table tennis, and relocated to NYC (New York City) where my mom and sister live.
“After watching the Rio 2016 Olympics, it made me think twice about giving up. So I picked myself up and got back in the game.
“But behind my happy, smiling face lie many struggles and setbacks I had to overcome. Facing my struggles head-on taught me how to be more resilient and fight for my dreams.
“Facing my challenges allowed me to grow as a person and as a table tennis player. Today I could not be more proud to be in Tokyo training for my first match in the 2020 Olympic Games, and representing my beloved country.”
Omotayo said he is putting his story and the sacrifices he had to make on Facebook to inspire as many people as possible that when there is the will, there will definitely be a way through.
He continued: “My wish is that my story will inspire and motivate so many souls out there. I promise that whatever you set your mind to, YES you can achieve it. I am living testimony and proof if I can do it, you can too.
“Quadri Aruna’s match after defeating Timo Boll of Germany at the Rio 2016 Olympics motivated me in a big way to get back in the game. And I have made many sacrifices to get here today. I have not laid eyes on my mom ever since I left NYC 4 years ago.
“And while it hurts deeply and I think of her and miss her every single day, I know I would not be where I am now without massive sacrifice. Hard work works guys.”
While expressing his gratitude to all those that have offered one form of support or the other, Omotayo says he needs his fans behind him more than ever before as he begins the quest for glory in Tokyo.
“My gratitude and love go to my family and friends who have been supporting me since the beginning of my journey. Thanks also to Aruna Quadri and his wife for always being there to encourage me with words and action, the Nigerian table tennis federation for the privilege to represent my beloved country, which I dearly love so much.
“And a very special thank you to my fans all over the globe, I love you. Now it’s time to get to business and fight for a place in the men singles second-round spot.
“I am playing against Tiago Apolonia from Portugal and now is the time I need you guys the most. Your support and prayers go such a long way. Wish me luck,” the table tennis star said.
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