17 May 2024

Unseeded Santoo Shrestha of Nepal and top seed Fathimath Dheeema Ali from the Maldives have secured their spots* for the Paris Olympics after emerging victorious at the three-day South Asia Regional Olympic Qualification held in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The prestigious National Table Tennis Training Centre in Kathmandu hosted nine men and ten women from Bangladesh, the Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, all competing for the coveted Olympic slots – one for men and one for women.

Shrestha, drawn into the same group as Men’s Singles top seed Ahmed Akhyar of the Maldives, overcame all his opponents to progress to the semifinal stage as the winner of Group 1. In the semifinal, Shrestha faced Sri Lanka’s Chameera Ginige and secured a 4-2 (11-7, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-8) victory, setting up a final clash against his compatriot Sanyog Kapali.

In a fiercely contested final, Shrestha and Kapali battled intensely. Shrestha appeared to be in control with a 3-1 lead (11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6), but Kapali fought back to level the match at 3-3. In the deciding game, Shrestha played his best, winning 11-5 to complete his 4-3 victory and secure his place in Paris.

“Qualifying for the Olympics and getting the opportunity to compete in Paris is an incredible honour and a dream come true. I’m feeling excited, grateful, and determined to represent my country to the best of my abilities. Heading to the Olympics in Paris is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m thrilled to be a part of such a prestigious event. The chance to compete against the world’s best athletes on such a grand stage is both exhilarating and humbling,” Shrestha said after his qualification.

Shrestha’s qualification makes him the third Nepalese athlete to qualify for the Olympic Games, following Sangina Baidya at Athens 2004 and Deepak Bista at Beijing 2008.

In the women’s singles, top seed Fatimath Dheeema Ali of the Maldives faced a stern test in the group stage but managed a 4-3 (12-10, 10-12, 11-4, 6-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9) win over Sri Lanka’s Bimandee Bandara to top Group 1 and secure a bye to the semifinal stage. There, Ali dominated Sri Lanka’s Ishara Madurangi with a 4-1 win and went on to defeat another Sri Lankan, Bimandee Bandara, with the same 4-1 margin, sealing her maiden Olympic Games ticket to Paris.

A delighted Ali said, “I feel incredibly honoured to be able to accomplish my dream at such a young age. I am looking forward to being able to play with some of the best players in the world.”

* The participation of athletes in the Olympic Games is contingent upon their respective National Olympic Committees’ selection for representation at Paris 2024, as per their exclusive authority.

General News Paris 2024 Olympic Games

No results found.