Dubai, Jan 8, 2015: Nigeria’s Quadri ARUNA‘s rise to stardom has reached new heights as he was crowned the Male Table Tennis Star and Table Tennis Star Point winner at the Dubai 2014 ITTF Star Awards.
Seven awards were handed out at the prestigious ITTF Star Awards, which took place this evening at the base of the world’s tallest building, to recognize the achievements of athletes and coaches in 2014.
The two most eyed awards of the night, the Male and Female Table Tennis Stars were decided by 60,000 public votes from all around the globe, combined with the judging results of an expert panel. The expert panel consisted of a representative from the ITTF Athletes Commission, the ITTF Para Division, the ITTF President, and four members of the international media.
ARUNA fended off tough competition from world number one XU Xin (CHN), Youth Olympic Champion FAN Zhendong (CHN) and European Team Championships gold medalist Marcos FREITAS (POR), to win the distinguished title presented by Ping Pong Dubai.
The African Cup champion who started the year as world number 237 and ended it at number 30, which is the highest ever for an African player stated: “This is the best day of my career and my life. I feel so great to be the winner in the midst of the world’s superstars. This award means the world to me.”
ARUNA’s amazing point against ZHANG Jike (CHN) at the LIEBHERR 2014 ITTF Star Awards also won the hearts of more than one-third of the voters to be named the Star Point of the year.
Favorite for the award, world number one DING Ning (CHN) took home the Female Table Tennis Star award presented by Nittaku, to add on to her vast trophy collection.
The two-time Women’s World Cup winner stated: “We had a great evening in Dubai. Thanks ITTF and all the people who are helped made me who I am today. Thank you to my coach, my team and all my fans for supporting me.”
In the Para Table Tennis category, the Male Para Table Tennis Star presented by Tinsue went to Spain’s Alvaro VALERA, while Croatia’s Sandra PAOVIC won the Female Para Table Tennis Star presented by Stag International.
“I am happy and proud to win this big award tonight. It’s really great to be back in table tennis again!” shared the 31-year old Croatian who successfully made her return to the table tennis scene after her life threatening crash in 2009.
During the spectacular ceremony, Portugal’s Pedro RUFINO was awarded the first ever Table Tennis Star Coach title presented by Butterfly, for his outstanding achievements in helping the Portuguese National Team win the 2014 European Team Championships, as well as the Portuguese players improvements in the world rankings.
In addition to these, a special Fair Play Star award was also handed out to LIU Jia (AUT) to award her act of Fair Play during the 2014 ITTF Women’s World Cup. At 11-all in the crucial sixth game, her opponent LI Xiaoxia executed a top spin, slicing the faintest of edges not seen by the umpire who then awarded the point to LIU, to which LIU immediately advised the official that the ball had touched.
Full list of ITTF Star Awards winners:
• Male Table Tennis Star presented by Ping Pong Dubai: Quadri ARUNA (Nigeria)
• Female Table Tennis Star presented by Nittaku: DING Ning (China)
• Male Para Table Tennis Star presented by Tinsue: Alvaro VALERA (Spain)
• Female Para Table Tennis Star presented by Stag International: Sandra PAOVIC (Croatia)
• Table Tennis Star Coach presented by Butterfly: Pedro RUFINO (Portugal)
• Table Tennis Star Point presented by DHS: Quadri ARUNA (Nigeria)
• Fair Play Star: LIU Jia (Austria). —- ITTF