10 Jan 2020

Learning his skills at cadet and junior level in France before deciding to represent Senegal, the country of his birth, the rise of 27 year old Ibrahima Diaw in recent months has been quite staggering.

After being listed at no.964 in October 2018; then returning to the order in June 2019 at no.484 following his return to international play, he is named at no.76 on the rankings for January 2020. In a period of 15 months that is a rise of over 400 places!

by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer

Since his debut for Senegal at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest, Ibrahima Diaw has played 48 matches, winning 35 of those contests. Also, he has the additional accolade of securing the men’s doubles title in partnership with the host nation’s Padasak Tanviriyavechakul at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Series Thailand Open.

Now, on the horizon is the African singles and mixed doubles qualification tournament for places in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The tournament will be staged in Tunisia from Thursday 27th the Saturday 29th February.

Progress

At junior level, the highest world ranking for Ibrahima Diaw was no.92 in 2010; on the under 21 men’s list he rose to no.200 in 2012. Following Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna at no.18 and Omar Assar at no.29, Ibrahima Diaw is the third African player within the top 100 names on the current men’s world rankings.

“I’m really surprised with my ranking progress in the last eight months. I always aimed to be ranked at least in the top 100 but I didn’t expect to reach it that fast. Last August I made a plan to select carefully in which tournaments I should play; with some luck and desire, things went well for me. Also my performance at the African Cup and African Games helped me a lot.” Ibrahima Diaw

In August Ibrahima Diaw reached the quarter-finals of the men’s singles event at both the ITTF-Africa Cup and at the Africa Games; in the former he experienced defeat by the very narrowest of margins when facing Quadri Aruna (9-11, 11-4, 11-3, 7-11, 11-2, 7-11, 12-10), in the latter rather more convincingly when opposing Omar Assar (11-5, 11-6, 11-8, 11-9).

“France never really believed in me and they never gave me an opportunity to express myself on the international scene. Now with new ranking system it is difficult to exist in the table tennis world if you can’t play World Tours. Also it is difficult to find a contract with one good club or a sponsor; when the Senegalese Table Tennis Federation contacted me, I thought about it and decided that it was my chance to prove to myself what I’m capable of.” Ibrahima Diaw

Motivated

Now Ibrahima Diaw is highly motivated; most importantly, his success is a motivating force for Senegal.

“My dream for table tennis in Senegal is that my country discovers and plays the sport. Table tennis should be played all over Senegal our National Olympic Committee helps us to realise the dream.” Ibrahima Diaw

However, in the immediate future there is an overriding priority for Ibrahima Diaw.

“My avowed target for 2020 is to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.” Ibrahima Diaw

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2020 Africa singles and mixed doubles qualification