by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Most significantly, she is the first player from the island to compete in an international table tennis tournament.
Present alongside cousin, Essa Aibastaki, it was to prove a most daunting task for the 25 year old; she was beaten by Algeria’s Katia Kessaci (11-5, 11-2, 11-6, 12-10) in her opening contest, before experiencing defeats at the hands of Ethiopia’s Mart Gulti (11-8, 11-4, 11-8, 11-7) and Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike (11-3, 9-11, 11-2, 11-8, 11-1).
An experience for Adel Abdallah Alshami Ahlam; one from which she can build.
“I started playing table tennis in 2004; in the United Arab Emirates they selected pupils from primary schools to take part in sports. I was picked to compete in table tennis; that was how my journey to taking to the sport started.
There is no major tournament in the United Arab Emirates but I compete in the five team club league where I currently represent Shaijah Women’s Club. Although our club featured at the 2015 Arab Club Championship in Egypt, I cannot compare that to what I am experiencing now in Tunisia.
I heard that I could represent my father’s country in an international tournament because my father was born in the Comoros Islands while my mother is from the United Arab Emirates; when I contacted the Comoros Islands Table Tennis Federation, they actually wanted me to compete in a tournament in Oman but I could not make it there.
Now, when this opportunity came, I grabbed it with both hands after getting the go-ahead from my parents. Playing in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament is a unique experience I will cherish for a long time to come because I have never played in such a big hall before.
I am also meeting some of the players I have been hearing and watching on video and television, particularly Quadri Aruna whom I consider one of the best players in the world; his face has made table tennis popular in Africa and his efforts globally have continued to inspire many of us. So seeing him live was another motivation for me as a player. I did not come here to win but participating alone is a motivation for me and this goes to show that I will need to work harder.
I am so excited that I could make it down here because this is my first major international tournament as I have not had such experience travelling to play in a big competition like this. It is an awesome experience and I cannot wait to have other players from the Comoros Islands for us to form a team.
My parents have been very supportive and without their support I would not be in Tunis. I must also thank the Comoros Islands Table Tennis Federation for their support for me to be part of the competition in Tunisia.
I look forward to competing in more African tournaments in near future.” Adel Abdallah Alshami Ahlam