27 Feb 2020

Proceedings commencing in the 2020 African Singles and Mixed Doubles Olympic Qualification Tournament in Tunis on Thursday 27th February, it was a proud moment for Adel Abdallah Alshami Ahlam.

A physiotherapy graduate from the University of Shaijah in the United Arab Emirates, she was on duty for her native Comoros, an island nation situated in the Indian Ocean.

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

2020 Africa singles and mixed doubles qualification Adel Abdallah Alshami Ahlam

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