by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In addition, Wang Jianan and Han Xing were respective Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles semi-finalists; whilst Wang Jianan joined forces with Hu Bin to secure Men’s Doubles gold. Additionally, alongside Saeed Idowu, Hu Bin and Wang Jianan secured Men’s Team bronze.
The results have had an effect on Congo Brazzaville; table tennis is now one of the most popular sports in the country.
Olalekan Okusan, the ITTF-Africa Press Officer, spoke to Jean Marie Ukuona who recently succeeded Henri Djombo as President of the Congo Brazzaville Table Tennis Federation.
The most popular sport in Congo Brazzaville remains football but in recent times table tennis has been placed second in terms of result. We are aiming to be the top sport, now we must do more to consolidate on this second place.
Our efforts for the 2015 African Games paid off. We sent 18 players and two coaches for one year training at the Hebei Training Centre in China; for the next stage, we will requesting assistance from the government to send a coach for a high level of training in China.
We will use a new gymnasium built during the 2015 African Games to popularise this sport more; the basis being a development project entitled “Continuity on the Move” which puts the athlete at the heart of our priorities. We will be able to encourage young people by organizing tournaments in primary schools in collaboration with some sponsors, who would like to support us in this programme. I think progress has been made in recent years especially in the rural areas of the country.
At the 2017 ITTF African Junior Championships in Tunis, we will fight to be on the podium, especially in the cadet and junior categories; for now we are organizing tournaments to select the best who will play in Tunisia.
The dominance of Egypt and Nigeria demonstrates the interest of their leaders in the sport. In terms of the quality of players, we also see that these two countries are aiming to continue their rivalry.
Notably, Quadri Aruna has brought honour to Africa but unfortunately he is the only one. We need several players of this talent to increase the chances of Africa at global tournaments.