The search for glory by African stars continues as the 55th World Table Tennis Championships serve off today at the Hungexpo in Budapest, Hungary.
With only three players from Africa making the seeding list in the men and women singles events, the highest ranked African star – Aruna Quadri of Nigeria – has been seeded 22 while his continental arch-rival – Egypt’s Omar Assar is rated 40 in the list.
The only African seeded in the women’s singles is African champion – Egypt’s Dina Meshref seeded 34th among the 64-man seeding list.
In the history of the world championships, no African has made it to the quarterfinal and this year all eyes will be on Quadri and Assar, who have both been knocking at the pinnacle of global table tennis with their outstanding performance at various ITTF-organised tournaments.
For making the seeding list, the trio of Quadri, Assar and Meshref will start their campaigns from the main draw (round of 128) of the singles event, while others will have to work their way into the elite round from the preliminary round as they have been drawn in groups.
Also, the mixed doubles seeding list, Nigeria’s pair of Segun Toriola and Olufunke Oshonaike has been seeded 21th among the 32 seeded pairs in the event. Toriola and Oshonaike are rated ahead of the Egypt’s duo of Omar Assar and Dina Meshref who are seeded 24th.
In the doubles’ seeding, Egypt’s Ahmed Saleh and Mohamed El-Beiali are the African pair listed in the men’s doubles seeding list while Egypt’s Dina Meshref and Yousra Helmy are also listed in the women’s doubles seeding list.
For the CEO of ITTF, Steve Dainton this year’s tournament would be a true celebration of the sport.
His words: “When you have all the best players from around the world competing against each other, you can be sure that there will be many epic matches in store. Given the sheer number of participants, there are always likely to be shock results too, and I can’t wait to watch as the drama unfolds.
“Of course, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are not too far away now either, and, as this is the biggest event prior to the games, it will also be interesting to see which players make a big impression in Budapest and prove themselves as top candidates for medals next year.
“What I can say with absolute certainty is that the local organising committee – the Hungarian Table Tennis Association – has put in a huge amount of effort with the full support of the country. Therefore, we are sure that this will be a truly unforgettable event,” Dainton said.