22 Jul 2021

Heroes do not always wear capes. Sometimes, they wear tracksuits and swing a table tennis racket.

With great anticipation, Tokyo 2020 is finally approaching. As we count down the days to a series of excitement and adrenaline rush, the greatness of some athletes manifests itself not only in the field of performance but also their effort to make the world a better place.

by Jia Li, ITTF Foundation Communication Coordinator

This is the first article in a two-part series, with a list of table tennis players in Tokyo 2020 whose desire for a better, more sustainable future is just as strong as for the medals.

Sarah Hanffou – the one that wears many hats

The French-Cameroonian table tennis player is a living wonder. Aside from representing her country at the Olympic Games, Sarah Hanffou is also a full-time lawyer, and the President of her non-profit organisation Ping Sans Frontières (PSF).

After seeing a group of Nigerian athletes playing table tennis on the side of the road using a net with holes, Hanffou went back to France and started collecting equipment to donate to people who needed it the most. That was how PSF came to be. With support from the ITTF, PSF continues to grow and is providing around a ton of equipment every year.

“I couldn’t live without these projects now, I want to serve something bigger than me, and it gives my life meaning.” Sarah Hanffou

Have we mentioned that Hanffou is also an ITTF Foundation Ambassador and our partner for the upcoming Tables4ALL project?

Quadri Aruna – the legend that leads the way for young players in Africa

Similar to Hanffou, the Nigerian international athlete Quadri Aruna supports young players in Nigeria with equipment every year.

Despite his fame and well-deserved titles, Aruna has never forgotten his roots in Oyo State, Nigeria. In May this year, Aruna confirmed the supply of equipment for six table tennis players for 12 months, including Paralympics debutants Isau Ogunkunle and Faith Obazuaye.

“I am conscious of the impact I have on the lives of many across the world… and for those that are getting support, I tell them I didn’t get this support, so they are going to be much better than me.” Quadri Aruna

Adriana Diaz – the rising star with a design flair and a big heart

The Puerto Rican player has proved that her sense of style is just as good as her table tennis skills.

Yessica Delgado, the Founder and Creative Director of A Medias LLC. approached Diaz and invited her to collaborate in their new collection of socks. Diaz has chosen the three subjects that represent her life: table tennis, Puerto Rico, and her favourite way to pass time, watching movies, as the design.

You would be wrong to think the story ends here. The proceeds of her socks will be donated to a non-profit organisation of Adriana’s choice.

This list continues as our players are still competing for the top spot in Tokyo 2020. Stay tuned for more table tennis Olympians that are eager to make a change.

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ITTF Foundation Quadri Aruna Adriana Diaz Sarah Hanffou