by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Now in the past decade, Omar Assar has progressed from being a promising young junior player to one who merits the accolade of world class
He spoke to Olalekan Okusan, the ITTF-Africa Press Officer
“I feel very proud to have reached such a high ranking. Earlier this year, one of the goals I set was to reach the top 20 in the world. My next target is to continue to improve and I am setting a new target of ending the year in top 15; what I just need to do now is to continue to work hard. I am sure that this is possible with more training.
I must also admit that it was not easy at all for me to achieve such high ranking in the world because I put pressure on myself to achieve this; I have been practising more than last year. The quality of my training is also different. I have had to change my practice methods.
It is always good to achieve a high world ranking because you become more popular. I feel very proud of my continent Africa and my country, Egypt, particularly being the first player from Africa, the Arab world and Egypt to achieve such a high world ranking. I was not easy because there is also Quadri Aruna who is a good player and working hard. It has always been a challenge for both of us. We try every time to be ahead of each other in the ranking. It is indeed a healthy rivalry because our aim is to be among the top 10 in the world
When I moved to Germany, I was sure that if I would reduce my travelling and invest more in my training time, this makes a huge impact in my game and it has shown clearly that I am playing in a very good club with a very good coach, Cristian Tamas. We are working together daily and I can see a great improvement in my game. I have opportunities to practise with good players like Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Timo Boll. Also, I am able to analyse my game.
Actually I don’t want to maintain my status in the ranking, I would like to go forward every month. When you reach this kind of ranking, it is an opportunity for you to be more ambitious and continue to move up in the ranking. It also pushes and inspires you to go further.
Unfortunately there is a clear gap between the senior and junior African players. The gap between Aruna and myself with other players is clear; others are outside the top 100. Quadri Aruna and myself started early when we were young. We tried to compete with the best and we were not satisfied with our African titles. We wanted to do something internationally; this must be the goal for every player right now.
As a junior player, even you try to copy what others are doing in your daily practice or you change your environment to a new table tennis environment, you must be ambitious and not be complacent. I believe this gives you chance to be a better player.”