15 Jan 2020

How time flies! It seems like only yesterday millions across the world were celebrating the New Year.

Now with the arrival of the New Year we've said farewell to the previous decade and have started ushering in a new one and what an exciting decade it could be for table tennis on the African continent with Egypt’s Hana Goda potentially on the horizon of achieving something very special.

by Simon Daish & Olalekan Okusan

Only turning 12 last month, Hana Goda is already beginning to cause a stir on the international stage with exceptional outings at some of the biggest junior events.

Considering title successes, no African could match Goda in 2019; the young Egyptian picking up four gold medals to her name and mustering many a notable victory along the way.

Goda’s first triumph came in Accra as she defied the odds to secure cadet girls’ singles gold at the 2019 ITTF-African Junior and Cadet Championships and achieved the same feat on home soil at the 2019 ITTF Egypt Junior and Cadet Open in Sharm El Sheikh.

Most recently Goda enjoyed a profitable outing away from African territory, claiming junior girls’ and cadet girls’ singles gold at the 2019 ITTF Portugal Junior and Cadet Open. Although the title eluded her in Wladyslawowo, Goda performed exceptionally well to reach the semi-final stage at the prestigious 2019 World Cadet Challenge event, where she was halted by eventual champion, Japan’s Kaho Akae.

Number one spot

Goda’s impressive display over the course of 2019 is further reflected in her world ranking performance, rising 41 positions in the space of 12 months to claim World no.1 status in the under 15 cadet list; thus becoming the first African to reach the world ranking summit!

“I feel so happy to be ranked number one in cadets. I am sure I can also become number one in junior and senior as well; this is my best moment so far but I must admit that it has been so tasking getting to this stage. I am also aware that it is harder to remain on top. My target this year is to keep being number one in cadet and to have better seeding in junior. I am also hoping that I can emerge as champion of the World Cadet Challenge this year.” Hana Goda

Goda also climbed 153 positions to no.23 in the under 18 junior table. Some breathtaking numbers which Goda will be looking to build upon; notably, already she has her attentions turned to senior success.

Sights set on making it to the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games in Senegal, Hana Goda also believes she can be part of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

“I hope I can go to 2024 Olympic Games and get a good result but also I want to be part of the 2022 Youth Olympic Games where I believe I can make it to the podium.” Hana Goda

Always accompanied by her mother, Radwa Azab, who most times acts as her psychologist, like all young people of her age she must combine education with high level sport. However, she is well aware that as she travels, her sporting experiences are also an education a classroom can not afford.

“My parents have a very important role in my table tennis career. They support me all the time because if they have not been there for me, I would not be the person I am today. I have gained a lot playing table tennis, I have I learnt to keep calm and maintain my mental strength whenever I am a bit under pressure. Education is also very important; when I travel anywhere I take my books with me in order to study.” Hana Goda

Benchmark

Now as a result of her efforts, Hana Goda has somewhat celebrity status in Egypt, just like Dina Meshref the country’s pacesetter: the 25 year old star having collected the African continent’s most prestigious trophies in what has been a fruitful career to date, including an astonishing seven ITTF Africa Cup singles golds!

Meshref continues to do her nation proud and sets the perfect benchmark for all young Egyptian players. A role model for Goda but she is also a target, as Goda aims not just to emulate but surpass her senior compatriot in the long run. However, for now focus must stay centred on the immediate task ahead.

Regardless of the final outcome, 2020 promises to be an exciting year for the young Egyptian.

Goda may still be only in the early stages of her journey but already the future is looking very bright for the 12 year old and for Egyptian table tennis as a whole. She is most certainly one to keep a close eye on over the next decade!

In Depth Dina Meshref Hana Goda