by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Impressive, most certainly and it is not the first time this year that the 26 year old from Accra has impressed; in the first week of March at the ITTF-Africa Top 16 Cup in the Kenyan capital city of Nairobi he gave Egypt’s Omar Assar a real scare in the group phase of proceedings, he extended the man currently listed at no.17 on the Men’s World Rankings, the full five games distance (11-6, 11-13, 11-8, 8-11, 11-4).
Notably Omar Assar progressed to win the title, an event in which playing at altitude many found difficult; Derek Abrefa adapted and that is exactly what he did in his opening match in the Men’s Singles event in Gold Coast.
“It’s my third Commonwealth Games so I did not feel any sense of panic but here everything is very different when compared with playing in Ghana. The floor is different, a court mat, in Ghana it is a wooden floor. Also there is the atmosphere, the crowd, the show court, it is all different. Fortunately the Ghana authorities arranged for us to arrive two weeks early to prepare.” Derek Abrefa
Against Emmanuel Gboyah, Derek Abrefa had time to play, earlier in the Men’s Team event, competing against England’s Paul Drinkhall, he had been afforded minimal time to play. He was beaten in straight games (11-8, 11-1, 11-8).
“Playing Omar Assar, playing Paul Drinkhall, it all adds to my experience; it motivates me. Against Paul I was level at 7-all and then 8-all but he was too fast. I need to improve my speed, the speed of my footwork, the speed of my first attack. Quadri Aruna and Sharath Kamal Achanta both gave me encouragement; they told me I can play at a high level.” Derek Abrefa
Defeats against the likes of Omar Assar and Paul Drinkhall, those outcomes were only to be expected but undoubtedly Derek Abrefa can climb higher in the world order. Polite and well mannered, unassuming, above all he has a calm demeanour and a splendid attitude. He relishes the chance to compete against an adversary from a higher level.
Based in Accra, training is now six hours a day, six days a week.
Notably in Ghana his achievements have been recognised; last year he received the award for excellence from the Sports Writers Association of Ghana. Moreover, he won it for the fifth time!