Abdulraheem muhammed olarewaju

Fatimo Bello has earned a spot to represent her country in the table tennis event at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The 27-year-old is set to compete on one of the biggest stages in sports: the Olympic Games in Paris 2024.

Fatimo Bello’s journey begins in the bustling city of Lagos, Nigeria, where she was raised by a supportive family. Her parents and siblings nurtured her passion for table tennis from a young age, providing her with the tools and inspiration to pursue her dreams. This strong family support has greatly influenced her journey, propelling her to the achievements she enjoys today.

Bello was dedicated to excelling in both academics and athletics despite the challenges commonly faced by Nigerian athletes. Growing up in Lagos, her interest in table tennis was sparked by local events and sports programs in her neighborhood. Early guidance from local coaches and mentors who recognized her potential helped her develop the skills that would eventually place her among Nigeria’s top athletes.

Early Dreams and Challenges

Bello had her sights set on the Olympics long before the continental qualifying events in Kigali, Rwanda. Her belief in her talents never wavered, even when many athletes at the 2023 African Games in Ghana fell short. Her determination has paid off; she is ready to compete on the global stage in Paris.

Bello’s path to this point has been inspirational. As a back-to-back National Sports Festival Champion, winning titles in Edo (2021) and Delta (2023), her potential was clear. However, her journey was filled with obstacles that tested her resolve.

Rising Through the Ranks

Her notable ascent began with an outstanding performance at the 2022 ITTF Africa Cup, where she emerged as the top-ranked female Nigerian player globally. This success brought her international recognition. However, a decline in her rating in 2023 due to inactivity posed another challenge. Bello overcame this by defeating Lynda Loghraibi in the qualifiers, securing her well-earned place at the Paris Olympics through sheer determination.

Reflecting on her journey, Bello said, “I started playing table tennis not because people talk about the Olympic Games. I enjoyed the game; my father and brother’s support motivated me to give it more of my attention.”

The Road to Kigali

Though Bello’s path to Kigali was not simple, her unwavering confidence in her abilities kept her motivated. “I never questioned my talent, even when my game was declining, particularly at Ghana’s last African Games. Being on the Nigerian national team is a privilege I greatly value. In a country with millions of athletes, making the team is not a simple task. Knowing that I would have the opportunity to participate in the Olympic Games if I could join the team, traveling to Kigali seemed natural.”

Bello’s journey to the Olympics is a testament to her commitment and the support of her family and mentors. Her father and brother were instrumental in motivating her to follow her passion for table tennis and supporting her through the highs and lows of her career.

Olympic Aspirations and Beyond

As Bello prepares for her Olympic debut, she is focused on making a significant impact. She aims not only to compete in Paris but to make her country proud. “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,” she said.

Bello also appreciates the guidance of veteran players who have helped her along the way. “I appreciate the advice and encouragement many experienced players have given me. Having traveled a bigger circuit to qualify for the Olympics, I am more familiar with the terrain now.”

Her story is one of tenacity, fortitude, and unwavering self-belief. As Bello stands on the verge of her Olympic debut, she embodies the hopes and aspirations of a nation. 

Her journey inspires many young athletes in Nigeria and beyond, illustrating the power of overcoming obstacles and pursuing excellence.

Fatimo Bello will not only be competing for a medal in Paris; she will be playing for every young Nigerian who dreams of proving that anything is possible with tenacity and resolve.


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