27 Apr 2017

A member of the Egyptian National Women’s Team at both the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur and later in the year at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games; Yousra Helmy is an increasingly seasoned competitor.

Alongside her cousin, Dina Meshref with whom she won the Women’s Doubles title at the 2016 ITTF African Championships, she will be on duty at the forthcoming Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf. Play begins on Monday 29th May.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

It will be her second appearance in the tournament; her first being two years ago in Suzhou at the Qoros 2015 World Championships.

On that occasion she finished in third place in her group behind Iran’s Neda Shahsavari and Judy Hugh of the United States but ahead of Mongolia’s Indra Gundegmaa.

She spoke to Olalekan Okusan, the ITTF-Africa Press Officer

“My current seeding will put me as the third or fourth ranked player in the group stage. My target is to try to win the group stage and qualify into the main draw.

I think that someday female players can out do Omar Assar. Reason being, Omar Assar has finished college and he has been playing as a professional in European clubs for many years. However till now all female players are not enjoying this free time with no college, since we are all students. Hence we are not giving table tennis the proper focus that is needed if you want such results.

Maybe a couple of years from now, some of us may focus more on table tennis by turning professional or maybe in the coming generations some professional female players may emerge.

As for me, I’ll still be studying till Monday 22nd May; I will only practise locally in Egypt. I’ll try not to miss any practice and will go to gym for fitness to try to reach the best possible form considering my tight schedule with my studies.

It is difficult for Africans for two main reasons. Firstly, we don’t have the professional athlete culture that is having jobs as athletes. You don’t get paid enough being only an athlete. Lately this has improved a bit in Egypt, as clubs are now paying reasonable amounts but only to top ranked players.

Also, the economic conditions of our country does not allow for a lot of spending on sports. We simply don’t have enough money or capabilities compared to what obtains in Europe or Asia.

I am in no position to know how other Africans are preparing for the World Championships but I think the main hope lies in Omar Assar and Quadri Aruna, as they are both professionals and already hold high rankings that can hopefully pave their road to good results.”

Liebherr 2017 World Championships Yousra Helmy

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