by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa Press Officer
Significantly nations like Chad, Malawi and Mauritania featured in a continental tournament for the first time; they fielded players in the singles and doubles events.
Record number of participants
A record number of national associations took part in the tournament; 81 men and 62 women competed in the table tennis competition.
First for Algeria
Algeria claimed their first gold medal at the Games when Sami Kherouf and Sofiane Boudjadja beat Egypt’s Ahmed Ali Saleh and Mohamed El-Beiali to emerge the men’s doubles champions; earlier at the semi-final stage the duo had ousted Nigeria’s Olajide Omotayo and Segun Toriola.
“I believe this medal will inspire more young people to embrace table tennis and I think this will mean more money for table tennis.” Sofiane Boudjadja
Men’s singles champion on debut
Making his debut at the African Games, Olajide Omotayo emerged the surprise winner of the men’s singles event. He beat compatriot Quadri Aruna, the semi-final winner in opposition to Egypt’s Omar Assar, the defending champion.
It was the sixth time that Nigerians had faced each other in an African Games men’s singles final. Previously, in 1978 Atanda Musa played Kasali Lasisi; then in 1987 he confronted Yomi Bankole before in 1991 opposing Sule Olaleye. Later, in 1995 in Harare Segun Toriola met Monday Merotohun before in 2007 in Algiers facing Monday Merotohun
Nigeria secures women’s doubles title
An all Nigerian women’s doubles final witnessed success for Edem Offiong and Cecilia Akpan against colleagues Olufunke Oshonaike and Fatimo Bello.
Egypt booked Olympic Games places
Gold medallists in both the men’s team and women’s team events, Egypt booked their places in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Dina Meshref retained title
Egypt’s Dina Meshref retained her women’s singles title; thus she became the only Egyptian player to achieve the feat. In addition she partnered Omar Assar to mixed doubles gold.
The African Table Tennis Federation recognised Nigeria’s 73 year old John Peters for his services to table tennis. He officiated on the first occasion table tennis was held at the African Games in 1973 in Lagos; then he was on duty in 1987 in Nairobi, 2003 in Abuja, 2007 in Algiers, 2011 in Maputo and 2015 in Congo Brazzaville, as well as in now in Rabat.
Apart from his continental duties, John Peters officiated at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and Glasgow. He was also present at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.