by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Member Relations Press Officer
After earlier in the day accounting for Senegal’s Ibrahima Diaw (11-4, 11-4, 11-5, 11-6), Omar Assar secured the title at the final expense of Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna (13-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-4), the defending champion.
“I knew it was going to be a very tough match because playing against Aruna is always a 50:50 win; he is a top-class player and I respect him for that. I love to play in Cameroon because it was in this same place that I beat Aruna 4-1 to win the title in 2015. Again, I won with the same result as today. I am so happy that I won because I really prepared for this competition.” Omar Assar
At the quarter-final stage Quadri Aruna had ended the progress of Ahmed Ali Saleh, also from Egypt (10-12, 6-11, 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4).
The success gained by Omar Assar was not unexpected; that of Mariam Alhodaby was a major upset.
Following a six games win against Egypt’s Yousra Helmy (11-4, 10-12, 11-8, 11-6, 18-20, 11-5); at the final hurdle she recovered from a three games to one deficit to beat compatriot Hana Goda in seven games (14-12, 5-11, 7-11, 11-13, 11-6, 13-11, 11-6).
“I was a bit nervous throughout the match because Hana is a very strong player who had defeated Dina Meshref who is our best player. I just told myself to continue pushing and I am happy I won. I am so excited. I cannot believe I won the gold, my first at the African Senior Championships.” Mariam Alhodaby
One round earlier, Hana Goda, only 13 years old, had caused a major surprise; at the semi-final stage she had beaten Dina Meshref, likewise from Egypt and the defending champion, in six games (12-10, 8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9).
Earlier in the proceedings, Omar Assar and Dina Meshref had won the mixed doubles, accounting for compatriots Khalid Assar and Yousra Helmy in the final (11-6, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8).
Likewise, Farah Abdel-Aziz and Yousra Helmy had secured the women’s doubles title, Nigeria’s Bode Abiodun and Quadri Aruna, the men’s doubles, the only title to elude Egyptian hands.
Hard fought finals, Farah Abdel-Aziz and Yousra Helmy beat Nigeria’s Cecilia Akpan and Offiong Edem (11-8, 4-11, 6-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-9); Bode Abiodun and Quadri Aruna overcame Khalid Assar and Ahmed Ali Saleh (6-11, 11-9, 13-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6).