02 Aug 2020

Lives are returning to normal across the globe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic; Africa being the continent with the lowest casualties is warming up to allow sporting activities to start.

Stars from the region are preparing to return to the competitive scene.

by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer

Sporting activities on hold in the last four months, the continent’s table tennis players are taking solace that they will return to action soon.

From Egypt, Senegal, Congo Brazzaville and Nigeria, the situation remains the same but stars from these nations are eagerly looking forward to returning to their sport.

For Germany-based Olufunke Oshonaike of Nigeria, COVID-19 did not stop her from fitness training at her Hamburg base.

“COVID-19 affected my training here in Germany during the lockdown and the league was stopped too and there was a little problem with funding too from my club, I was able to do only fitness training. As you know, only fitness training can never be enough without the touch of racket and ball!!! Apart from that I have missed matches and competition so very much.

Now that the quarantined period is over, I have been training more and learning new things. I think the break helped me a little. I have been able to correct some of my mistakes that I have not been able to do for some years now. Now I’m just waiting for the league matches to start here in Germany so that we can at least move on. I miss competitions but I believe with the league matches, I will be able to get me back in shape and prepare for the international competition coming up in future.” Olufunke Oshonaike

For Dina Meshref of Egypt, the lockdown necessitated by COVID-19 has helped her to rediscover herself off the table.

“I have not had the chance to play matches during the weeks, so I think that is one of the drawbacks of the COVID-19 on me. However, having a long period of practice without competition has given me the chance of changing some things in my game; practising well without interruptions and without losing time of resting and recovering after stressful tournaments and travel.” Dina Meshref

The African champion is looking forward to the start of the German Bundesliga.

“I intend to make use of league matches in Germany and try my best to quickly adapt and get back in shape (in terms of matches’ form), and I will keep practising and doing physical fitness exercises.” Dina Meshref

Dina Meshref is looking to make a quick jump back up to speed following tournament absence (Photo: Richard Kalocsai)

For Swedish-based Khalid Assar of Egypt, he is eagerly looking forward to the Swedish League to start in order to be back to shape.

“I am looking forward to the start of league in Sweden with the hope that I will adapt early with regular practice.” Khalid Assar

Senegal’s Ibrahima Diaw admitted that COVID-19 has disrupted his plans for 2020.

“The COVID-19 affected me as I have not been playing any tournaments. It is difficult to plan ahead because we don’t really know when the World Tour will start again and many of the big events like WTTC, African Championships or Olympic Games have been postponed.” Ibrahima Diaw

Looking ahead to the return of table tennis across Europe, Diaw was positive.

 “I intend to recover the lost period by developing some new skills; this is the good time to try new things and improve my faults. It can be mental, physical or technical.” Ibrahima Diaw

Portugal-based Saheed Idowu of Congo Brazzaville said life has not been the same since COVID-19.

“It is one of difficult period for me because I did not have chance to train for almost four months. It was a very difficult season for me because I was scared of the disease as everybody is worried.

I have started recovering little by little with physical exercises and little practice because there is chance to play some championships and World Tour but with club matches and physical training, I will try to manage and recover gradually. This is also an opportunity for me to add many things to my game which can help me when the competitions start.” Saheed Idowu

Saheed Idowu is hoping to learn a thing or two about his game when he makes his return to the table (Photo: Moez Fellah)
Features Dina Meshref Olufunke Oshonaike Ibrahima Diaw Khalid Assar Saheed Idowu