by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Notably, their performances have attracted accolades and encouragement from the continental ruling body, Khaled El-Salhy, President of African Table Tennis Federation considered the players fine ambassadors for the continent.
“Some African players did quite well, especially Quadri Aruna who was the last male player on track by reaching the round of 32, also Dina Meshref made it to the round of 64 in singles while her doubles’ pairing with Yousra Helmy reached the last 32 of the event. I think they all tried their best and lost in some very tough matches.” Khalid El-Salhy
Equally, Khalid El-Salhy accepted the fact the African players faced a daunting task in Budapest.
“Medals in this kind event are very difficult due to the big competition from China as well as from strong teams like Japan, Germany, Korea and others. Maybe they should look to medals in World Cup events. Players must also work hard to be able to advance in this kind of competition; this will surely help their world ranking. Also national associations must prepare their players and should be now looking to future World Championships.” Khaled El-Salhy
Likewise, Wahid Enitan Oshodi, Vice President Western African Region, stressed that African players need to raise their game for events like the World Championships.
“The performance of the African players was quite fair. We were hoping for better results but they had to contend with difficult draws and players recovering from injuries. The performances need to improve so we can challenge the top Asian and European players. Apart from this, I must commend Quadri Aruna who is still recovering from a hamstring injury but worked hard in getting to the round of 32 before going out in a closely contested match against the overwhelming favourite and World no. 1 Fan Zhen Dong. It was a great performance. The young Nigerian former junior champion, Ajoke Ojomu, also showed great promise in her first World Championships. She showed all the qualities needed to play at this level. Now she must add more hard work to her undoubted talent. The African female champion Dina Meshref also played well.” Wahid Enitan Oshodi
Furthermore, Wahid Enitan Oshodi stressed the need to be up to date.
“We must get our players playing more regularly against the best players in the world. Our coaches need to learn the latest techniques. We need more exposure for them and for the players. We need to get our players on the World Tour; this means money, they need more sponsorship and funding. We have all witnessed the vast improvements made by Quadri Aruna, Olajide Omotayo and Omar Assar since they started playing regularly on the Tour. You play against the best in the world and you learn from them. The support Quadri Aruna has received from Baba Ljebu Bet has helped him in no small way to ensure he attends tournaments and pays for the extra coaching that is needed at this level. Others need to emulate this.” Wahid Enitan Oshodi