29 May 2017

Strong representation; Africa made a positive start to proceedings in the qualification stage of both the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf on Monday 29th May.

In the Men’s Singles event the Nigerian duo of Olajide Omotayo and Ojo Onaolapo enjoyed success in their opening engagements, as did the Ivory Coast’s Ali Kanate. Likewise Congo Brazzaville’s Abiodun Lawal made a positive start, an effort emulated by Tunisia’s Kerem Ben Yahia and Algeria’s Sami Kherouf.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor (Interviews by Olalekan Okusan)

Olajide Omotayo and Kerem Ben Yahia both overcame adversaries from the Mediterranean island of Malta; Olajide Omotayo beat Malta’s Daniel Bajada (11-9, 11-5, 11-4, 11-7), Kerem Ben Yahia accounted for Jurgen Sammut (11-3, 11-6, 11-4, 11-5).

“I am very proud and privileged to be competing at my first World Championships particularly to have been selected among the millions of talents in Nigeria. This is a place where the best compete and playing my first match was indeed a memorable moment for me. When I started the match, I was a bit eager to finish quickly but the pep talk from my coach calmed me. I am hoping to qualify from the group; winning my first group match would surely motivate me in my next match. My target is to first qualify from the group and see what next I can achieve.” Olajide Omotayo

A comprehensive performance from Olajide Omotayo, it was the very same from his colleague, Ojo Onaolapo; likewise he beat an adversary from the Mediterranean. He overcame Cypriot, Christos Savva (11-2, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7).

“I am aiming to advance from the group and I know that starting well is good for me to achieve my first aim in the competition. It was not an easy match but I was able to put everything right to claim my desired victory. We are four in the group and I must ensure I made it from the group by winning all my matches.” Ojo Onaolapo

Impressive, it was the same from Sami Kherouf, he beat Kosovo’s Milto Makoli in four straight games (11-7, 11-4, 11-3, 11-3).

Comfortable wins, it was slightly more exacting for Ali Kanate and Abiodun Lawal; Ali Kanate needed five games to beat Sri Lanka’s Imesh Ranasingha (11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9), Abiodun Lawal needed one game more to overcome Turkmenistan’s Rasid Ahmedov (11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-8).

Success for Africa in the opening exchanges in the Men’s Singles qualification event; it was the same in the Women’s Singles. Egypt’s Farah Abdel-Aziz and Yousra Helmy emerged successful as did Cameroon’s Sarah Hanffou.

Farah Abdel-Aziz beat the Ivory Coast’s Akissi Drame (11-5, 11-1, 11-5, 11-2); whilst in a very similar manner, Yousra Helmy defeated Moumita Alam of Bangladesh (11-4, 11-7, 11-4, 11-2).

“I am confident that I can make it from the group and this win has boosted me to complete the group. I must say that this is the best World Championships considering the qualities of players and organisation. This is the biggest competition in the world after the Olympic Games, every player dreams of taking part. I am hoping that I can make it to the main draw then let us wait and see what will happen in the next stage.” Farah Abdel-Aziz

A straight games win for Farah Abdel-Aziz; it was a five games success for Sarah Hanffou; she accounted for Mongolia’s Doljinzu Batbayar (11-5, 9-11, 12-10, 11-7, 12-10).

The qualification stage of the Women’s Singles event concludes on Tuesday 30th May.




Liebherr 2017 World Championships Olajide Omotayo Ojo Onaolapo

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