26 Feb 2017

The city of Bremen has special memories of Sarah Hanffou, the founder of Ping Sans Frontières, a non-profit organisation aimed at supporting third world countries; now she is looking forward in the hope that another German city, Düsseldorf will afford equally special recollections.

A practising lawyer, she will represent Cameroon at the forthcoming Liebherr 2017 World Championships to be staged in Düsseldorf from Monday 29th May to Monday 5th June.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Now, eleven years ago, at the Liebherr 2006 World Team Championships, she represented in France; in the group stage of the Women’s event, France caused a major upset by beating Hong Kong.

Carole Grundisch accounted for Lin Ling (10-12, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7) and Tie Yana (14-12, 4-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8), with sandwiched in between, Sarah Hanffou overcoming Zhang Rui (11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 14-12); it was a win that was vital in the three-one success.

She spoke Olalekan Okusan, the ITTF Africa Press Officer

The last time I played in Germany was more than 10 years ago. Then I was playing with the French senior national team and it was in Bremen in 2006. We beat Hong Kong and I had my best performance ever by beating a player ranking 27 (Zhang Rui) in the world. It was my last big championship with the French national team. I am eagerly looking forward to playing in Düsseldorf this year.

My only expectation is to represent Cameroon the best that I can and go as far as possible. The World Championships is something special. It is a very hard competition, with the best players in the world; as a player you can learn a lot, watch amazing matches, all in a fraternity atmosphere. It is a unique experience for every player. The hosting by Germany makes it special because the organisation is always awesome. They have great experience in the field of organization.

I participated in the qualification for the Athens 2004 Olympics as a member of the French Senior Team. I stopped right before the qualifications for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. At that time I was focused on achieving my university degree. I have no regret playing for France because it is the country where I grew up and it was an honour and a wonderful experience for me.

However, playing for Cameroon was also a way of giving back; a way of sharing my passion for table tennis. I had the opportunity to try to promote table tennis in Cameroon; there is still a long way to go but at least I tried. I have no regrets. It is an honour to represent my second country, the country of my father

My memorable moment with Cameroon is of course my participation in the 2012 London Olympic Games. It was a great achievement on a personal level as well as for the Cameroon Federation. Also my 2010 victory during the African Championship in Yaoundé was a decisive moment for me when representing Cameroon.

In my opinion playing table tennis has given me a certain discipline, will-power and accuracy that are very useful in my professional and in my personal life. It conveys values such as fair play and respect that has helped me in life.

Through table tennis I was given the opportunity to travel, compete and meet with people from various countries and different cultures. I have met wonderful people and discovered magnificent countries.  The experience I gained cannot be described but overall it has been a very fulfilling journey. Table tennis is the most universal sport in the world. It is a very friendly sport and everybody can play and everywhere.

School has always been a priority to me. I think, especially for women, it is important to be educated, have a job so that we can be independent.

I grew up in France and had the chance to go to school and go to university. I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer.


Liebherr 2017 World Championships Sarah Hanffou

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