by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager (Interviews by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer)
After recording a semi-final win over Nigeria’s Offiong Edem (11-7, 11-5, 3-11, 11-6, 12-10), she accounted for Cameroon’s Sarah Hanffou (11-2, 11-4, 10-12, 11-6, 11-8) to reserve the top step of the podium. In the opposite half of the draw in the penultimate round, Sarah Hanffou had defeated Algeria’s Lynda Loghraibi (11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 12-10).
The win means that for the sixth time, the fifth in succession, Dina Meshref qualifies for the Women’s World Cup to be staged later in the year in September in Chengdu, China.
“I am happy that my dream of making it to the ITTF World Cup has become a reality because that tournament is special to me. Against Sarah, I was quite calm and I thought clearly before making any tactical decisions. I did not really expect her to give me a tough time but after the first two games, she played well and raised her game. I must commend her for putting up a good performance.” Dina Meshref
Defeat for Sarah Hanffou but a far better finish that was anticipated, she was not listed amongst the top four seeds.
“I am happy with my performance in this competition because I was not expecting that I would make it to the final. The performance in this competition shows that I need to get back to practise and correct all the mistakes I noticed in my performance. I think Dina deserved the victory because she played better than I did. I am quite satisfied with what I achieved in this tournament. I am also nursing Olympic Games ambition. I started physical training two weeks ago and I will try practise twice a week. I hope I will be in shape for the African Championship later this year in Mauritius.” Sarah Hanffou
Gold and silver respectively for Dina Meshref and Sarah Hanffou; Offiong Edem beat Lynda Loghraibi (11-5, 11-8, 11-9) to secure third place. Fifth position finished in the hands of Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike followed by Tunisia’s Safa Saidani, Egypt’s Farah Abdel-Aziz and Christy Bristol of the Seychelles.