Egypt, once again sparkled at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Africa Cup Championships, which ended, yesterday, at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium. Egyptians won continent’s titles in the men and women singles’ categories.
In the men’s challenge, Assar Omar regained the title after a bitter 4-3 defeat of the ITTF number 10 seed, Quadri Aruna, in a keenly contested duel.
At the Teslim Balogun Stadium, which the championship held, Aruna began on a shaky note, but steadied ship afterwards. At 3-3, the Nigerian was leading in the challenge, until he twisted his leg while attempting to return a ball. After the incident, he could no longer compete favourably due to the excruciating pain. The development eventually cost him the title in front of his supporters, who thronged the venue in large numbers to cheer him.
In the women’s cadre, teenage sensation, and World U-13 number one, Egypt’s Hana Goda, overwhelmed Fatimo Bello, in a one-sided game, as she took on the winner of the table tennis event of the last National Sports Festival to the cleaners, defeating her 4-0.
Egypt also claimed the third spot (Mohamed El-Beiali and Dina Meshref) and fourth (Ahmed Saleh and Mariam Alhodaby) positions in both the men and women singles events.
Winners of the different categories were rewarded with cash prizes of $5,000; first runners up $2,500; second runners up $1,500, and third runners up, $1,000.
Assar, in his remarks, said he was happy to compete in Lagos after the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that Lagos remains the best place to compete for titles in the game of table tennis.
“First, I am very happy to perform here in Lagos, and I believe here is the place I have received the most encouraging support. It has been so long a time since I played here last because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe here is the best place to play in Africa because the people love table tennis and they always love to watch the sport, and the hall is always filled up, which you don’t see often in Africa.
“I am happy that I won today, but at this time, I am worried about Aruna’s injury. Aruna and I are very close friends outside the court. To me, the most important thing is that he is healthy and that he is not in pains. I wish him all the best and soonest recovery,” he said.
“Of course, I gave almost everything, from when I could move, to when I couldn’t move very well again. I was already feeling some kind of tightness from my thigh. Despite that, of course I never gave up, as I was still fighting on until finally at 3-3, and at 4-0, I was leading… It is one of those things in sports, but I am very happy with my performance,” he stated.