22 May 2017

Against the odds, at the time no world ranking owing to an absence from international play, Tunisia’s Saifa Saidani caused a major upset at the 2016 ITTF-Africa Olympic Games Qualification tournament is Khartoum on Thursday 18th February.

She beat Cameroon’s Sarah Hanffou, the no.2 seed, to reserve her place in Rio de Janeiro.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

The result is that since her appearance in the Brazilian city, Safa Saidani has become a role model for young players in her country; a fact that was most prevalent at the recent 2017 ITTF African Junior Championship staged in Tunis.

Now the young lady, who will celebrate her 27th birthday on Saturday 27th May, two days prior to the start of the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf, will be seeking to repeat the Khartoum form of last year.

Additional to the Women’s Singles, Safa Saidani partners Fadwa Garci in the Women’s Doubles and Naim Karali in the Mixed Doubles.

She spoke to Olalekan Okusan, the ITTF Africa Press Officer

The World Championships is undoubtedly the biggest table tennis event in the world. I am very happy to participate. To be frank, in the midst of the best players in the world, it is very difficult to go far in this competition.

Negotiating the preliminary rounds and playing in the knock-out round will be my main objective. Also, the main objective in this competition is to represent Tunisia well, earn points and climb in the world rankings after the Rio Olympic Games.

Representing one’s country is always the greatest honour of any athlete. I thank all the persons who have contributed since my young age until today to offer me this opportunity.

Unfortunately, I have been injured for three weeks and this has disrupted my preparation for the World Championships. Since my return to training, I have tried with my coach Ghazi Belkahia to find my form, in order to be in top shape for the tournament

In recent years, African players have taken an important step on the international scene, especially with Quadri Aruna at Rio making it to the Men’s Singles quarter-finals.

Also, Egypt’s Dina Meshref made some very good performances, just like Omar Assar. There is nothing stopping them from creating a surprise this year, even winning a medal.


Liebherr 2017 World Championships Safa Saidaini

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