by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor (Interviews by Olalekan Okusan)
In the most appropriate words of Olalekan Okusan, the Press Officer for the African Table Tennis Federation: “like the orphan Oliver Twist in the Charles Dickens novel who wanted more food, Omar Assar is hungry for more”.
“My three major targets in 2017 are to reach top 20 in world ranking; winning my first major World Tour and making it to the quarter-final of the World Championships in Düsseldorf, Germany”, Omar Assar
Success at the end of the year but earlier in the year in February in the Sudanese capital city of Khartoum, the silver medal had been his lot, beaten by arch rival and close friend, Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna in the final.
Equally, soon after in early March at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Egypt experienced a three-one semi-final defeat against India in Men’s Division Two and thus did not gain promotion to the Championship Division.
Notably the disappointments came after Omar Assar had threatened to cause a major upset at the 2016 ITTF World Tour German Open; in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event, he extended the host nation’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.2 seed, the full seven games distance (8-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7, 15-17, 9-11, 11-7).
“2016 was a very special year with ups and downs as I started the year very well with the German Open where I put up good performance. However, I could not fulfil my expectations in Sudan at the ITTF Africa Top Cup and the World Team Championships in Malaysia. However the French League was going on fantastic for me during the same period, while my preparation for the Rio Olympic Games was special, I stayed long in China before Rio”, Omar Assar
Currently, Omar Assar plays for Istres in Pro A of the French League alongside Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro and the host nation duo of Benjamin Brossier and Paul Gauzy.
Furthermore, he has been very much the club’s leading player in what has not been the best start in the quest for honours; as the New Year starts, the club is in eighth place in a division of ten teams.
However, without Omar Assar, the situation would be much worse. He has won nine of his eleven matches, the only defeats being against Tristan Flore when facing Pointoise Cergy and in opposition to Alexey Liventsov when opposing Caen.
“Wining the African title in Morocco was the highlight of the year for sure as well as starting the first half of the French league with nine wins and two losses,” Omar Assar
The impressive results have attracted the attention of several European clubs; it is in the early months of this year that clubs prepare their squads for the 2017-2018 season.
“Receiving more than five offers from famous European clubs for next season was my Christmas gift”, Omar Assar
Now over a decade later, the young man who in 2006 attracted our attention at the ITTF World Cadet Challenge in Vrsac, Serbia, is very much a player in demand. He is crucial to Egyptian and African success, for whatever club he pens his name it will be the same; Omar Assar is a valuable commodity.