by Nathaniel Somuah, Côte d’Ivoire Table Tennis Federation
Both undoubtedly are favourites for medals in Abidjan but are aware of the threat from Egyptian colleague Amira Yousry plus fellow North Africans from Tunisia and Algeria.
“I have had good training at my club in Egypt and also I have had a three week camp with the national team in preparation for this tournament; this is the shortest camp I have had so far because I am in my senior year in school but all the same, I am fully prepared. My aim is to win a fourth Under 18 title having won it three times already.” Marwa Alhodaby
Prepared, it is the same for sister Mariam Alhodaby.
“Last year in Tunisia was my first under 21 tournament and I won. It was a very tough competition but I managed to win. My aim is to retain my title this year but I know there is going to be strong competition from my sister Marwa, Amira Yousry, Sarah Abousetta and not forgetting the good players from Algeria and Tunisia. I am hoping that I can add the under 18 title too since this is my last under 18 tournament. I have lost three finals to my twin sister Marwa and this time I want to win it.” Mariam Alhodaby
Goals set and later in the year there is another goal for Marwa Alhodaby.
“I have qualified for the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in Argentina. This tournament is one of preparation for the Games. I will be having a final training camp in China in August to put me in shape for the Olympics. I will also be in the World Junior Championships in Australia”. Marwa Alhodaby
For her sister Mariam, even though she did not qualify for the Youth Olympic Games, her plans are in sync with Marwa.
“I did not qualify for Buenos Aires but I will also be in China to train to become a better player. I have a lot to learn and I will make good use of the opportunity in China”. Mariam Alhodaby
Also, Bacent Osman , the coach feels the same way the players feel and she is confident they will produce good results by the end of the tournament.
“We hope to take first place and win all the medals in all the events, especially as our main opponents Nigeria are not participating. However Algeria is very strong in the Under 21 events while Tunisia is a stronghold in the under 18. We will play them strongly and I know we are capable of winning” Bacent Osman
Importantly, the sisters have made an ideal start to their campaign in the Junior Girls’ Team event; lining up alongside Nada Elsisy, the recorded a three-one win against the Mauritius outfit comprising Nandeshwaree Jalim, Ivana Descann and Lorie Yee Kin Sin.