Fatimo Bello: Resilience and determination earned me Paris Olympic Games qualification

Fatimo Bello: Resilience and determination earned me Paris Olympic Games qualification

Before the continental qualifiers in Kigali, Rwanda, 27-year-old Fatimo Bello openly expressed her intention to participate in the 2024 Olympic Games in France.

Despite her less-than-impressive performance at the 2023 African Games in Ghana, Bello remained confident in her abilities. She is now set to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics, representing Nigeria in table tennis.

Bello, a back-to-back National Sports Festival Champion (Edo 2021 & Delta 2023), clinched one of the four slots in Rwanda.

Bello’s journey has been marked by resilience and determination. Her ranking soared after a remarkable performance at the 2022 ITTF Africa Cup, making her the highest-ranked Nigerian female player globally. Although her rating dropped in 2023 due to inactivity, she persevered and secured her spot in Paris by defeating Algeria’s Lynda Loghraibi in the qualifiers.

Reflecting on her journey, the 143rd-ranked player in the world emphasized her love for the game and the privilege of representing Nigeria. “When people are talking about going to the Olympic Games, it was not part of the reason I started playing table tennis because I love the game and the encouragement from my father and brother inspired me to put more effort into the game,” she said.

“Even when my game was going down, especially at the last African Games in Ghana, I never doubted my ability because being part of the Nigerian national team is a rare privilege so I cherish it a lot. Particularly in a nation of millions of players, and for you to make the team is not an easy task. I knew that if I was able to be part of the team, going to Kigali would surely give me the chance to be part of the Olympic Games,” she said.

As she prepares for her Olympic debut, Bello remains focused on making an impact. She appreciates the guidance from senior players and is ready to compete against the world’s best. “I am aware of the challenge ahead at the Olympics, where more stars are competing, and I am not going there just to add to the numbers but to make an impact.

“Many senior players have been advising and supporting me, and I am grateful for their guidance. I am more familiar with the terrain now, having taken a longer route to qualify for the Olympics,” Bello said.

Her journey exemplifies resilience and determination, and she aims to make her country proud on the Olympic stage.