Egyptian table tennis player Omar Assar has etched his name in the annals of African table tennis history after overcoming Croatian opponent Tomislav Pucar 4-0 in the round of 16 at the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals. Assar’s exceptional performance has propelled him into the quarter-finals, making him only the second African ever to achieve this feat, following in the footsteps of his compatriot Quadri Aruna from Nigeria.
En route to the quarterfinals, Assar beat the likes of Alberto Mino of Ecuador, Kirill Gerassimenko of Kazahkstan and Truls Moregard of Sweden, all of whom are ranked within the top 70. His top-class performances and vivacious energy have endeared him to many, capturing the attention of fans and players alike. His recent victories have also solidified his position as one of Africa’s brightest table tennis stars, carrying the hopes of the continent on his shoulders.
In a touching moment that encapsulated the spirit of camaraderie and support among African players, Quadri Aruna, the trailblazer who reached the quarter-finals of the previous World Championships in Houston, came down onto the field of play to embrace Assar after his emphatic win.
Reflecting on his phenomenal feat, Assar said, “I think I am following in the footsteps of my big brother Quadri Aruna. His support today really means a lot to me, and I would like to thank him. I really wanted to hug him after the match, it was not planned at all. I would like to express my appreciation to him, my brother Khalid Assar, my family, Egypt and team Africa.”
Upon progressing to the next round, Assar expressed shock, something that was echoed by his wife. He remarked, “When I called my wife and my kids after the results, my wife told me that I must be kidding. They were just as shocked as me!”
Assar also paid homage to the home support that he has received throughout the tournament, saying, “The fans were absolutely amazing, and they were always on my side. They supported me throughout the competition and were with me this entire time even when I was not winning. Thank you to all my fans, especially the young ones – they are really cute. It means so much to play in Durban and in Africa as it feels like I am playing at home from day one. To play in such a big event in Africa makes me proud, but to reach the quarter-finals, I am over the sky right now!”
Assar’s journey to the quarter-finals serves as an inspiration to aspiring table tennis players across Africa, demonstrating that with hard work, perseverance, and belief, they too can make their mark on the global stage.
He quipped, “For the young African players, I would tell them to always be eager to learn. Learn from the people around you, from your day-to-day training, from your mistakes and losses. Quadri and I are very good examples of this, as we both struggled in the beginning without any upsets on big international stages until recently.”
As the event progresses, Assar carries with him the hopes and aspirations of an entire continent. Looking ahead, he remains focused and determined to make an impact in the remainder of the tournament.
On that, he declared, “For now, I will celebrate my win and not think about the next match. I will just stay in the present moment and enjoy it with my loved ones, before coming up with a game plan for the next match.”
And enjoy the win he shall, together with an entire continent of table tennis fans rooting for him. The African fairytale lives on.