by Ian Marshall, Editor
The top seeds, after earlier in the day recording a semi-final success against colleagues, Khalid Assar and Yousra Helmy, the no.4 seeds (11-3, 11-8, 12-10, 11-7), the duo accounted for Nigeria’s Segun Toriola and Olufunke Oshonaike, the no.2 seeds, to secure the title. Most impressively, as in the penultimate round, they emerged successful in four straight games (11-6, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8).
In the counterpart semi-final, Segun Toriola and Olufunke Oshonaike had prevented an all Egyptian final by ending the hopes harboured by Mohamed El-Beiali and Farah Abdel-Aziz, the no.3 seeds (11-8, 11-5, 11-9, 11-7).
Success for Dina Meshref means that she has now won the Mixed Doubles title at an African Championships on four occasions; furthermore, it is four in a row. In 2012 and 2015 in Cairo, as well as in 2016 in Agadir, she gained success partnering Omar Assar.
The victories put her clear of the field, no other female player has won the Mixed Doubles title at an African Championships on more than two occasions; her nearest rivals are colleague Ines El-Darwish, Nigeria’s Olawunmi Majekodunmi and Congo Brazzaville’s Han Xing.
Ines El-Darwish won in 1964 in Accra when partnering Galal Ezz and two years later in Lagos in harness with Hosni Sonbol. In 1976 in Cotonu, Olawunmi Majekodunmi teamed with Kasali Lasisi to claim gold and in 1985 in Alexandria secured the top prize in harness with Atanda Musa. More recently in 2008 Han Xing enjoyed success with Saheed Idowu in Kinshasa and in 2010 in Yaoundé, when joining forces with Suraju Saka.
Meanwhile, just as Dina Meshref is the most successful female in the Mixed Doubles event at an African Championships; alongside Omar Assar, Ahmed Ali Saleh now becomes the most successful male player. Likewise he has now won three times. Furthermore, he has a particular liking for Port Louis, he won his first in the city in 1998 when partnering Gihan El-Sayed; two years later in Addis Ababa, he succeeded when combining with Shaima Abdel-Aziz.
Omar Assar and Ahmed Ali Saleh are the only male players to have won the Men’s Doubles title at an African Championships on more than two occasions; in fact there is only one other who has won twice.
Somewhat ironically it is Segun Toriola. He won in 1992 in Lagos partnering Abiola Odumosu and in 2002 in Bizerte when lining up alongside his current partner, Olufunke Oshonaike. The success in Bizerte is the only previous occasion when Olufunke Oshonaike has claimed the title.
Nearly a third for Segun Toriola in Port Louis, it was not to be; gold for Ahmed Ali Saleh and Dina Meshref. In more ways one, in the words of Tina Turner: “simply the best, better than all the rest”.
2018 ITTF African Championships: Newsletter – Monday 3rd September
2018 ITTF African Championships: Newsletter – Tuesday 4th September
2018 ITTF African Championships: Newsletter – Wednesday 5th September
2018 ITTF African Championships: Newsletter – Friday 7th September