(By: Butterfly Team)
Comments were received from Omar Assar (EGY) who won the ITTF-Africa Cup title held in Lagos, Nigeria from 26th to 28th May 2022. It was the second time he has won the event since 2019.
He recalled his success.
- How do you feel after securing the title?
After my win in Lagos 2022, I feel very happy and confident. I had many challenges during the event, such as the humid weather, the traffic jams in Lagos and, of course, the Nigerian fans who were very loud and energetic in the hall. It was tough to keep focused and determined during the competition.
- How important is the Africa Cup for you?
The Africa Cup is very important for me, just as any other competitions where I represent my national team, my sponsors and partners; top of the list is Butterfly. I wanted to make sure that I was in top form and well prepared. However, this Africa Cup in Nigeria was very special! I knew that I would have to perform at my very best to win in Nigeria and to overcome the world No.10 (Quadri Aruna), who had been playing very well recently.
- The final against Aruna must have been a very tough and difficult match for you, especially when Aruna injured his leg during the rally when he was leading 4-0 in the seventh game. What was your feeling and how did you manage after the accident?
My matches with Aruna are usually very tight because we know each other well and both of us have a strong fighting spirit. We have played against each other already about 20, most of them are finals in Africa! Besides, we have a very good friendship outside the court. We share some meals and nice conversations often even during competitions; that’s why when I saw his injury, I was very worried about him; I ran to him to check if he was okay!
- You hugged Aruna and said some words to him after winning the match. What did you say to him?
Yes, it was an emotional moment! I didn’t expect our match would end with his injury; that’s why I wanted to tell him that he had done his best and I wished him a fast recovery.
- Players from Africa have become stronger recently, such as you, Quadri Aruna, Dina Meshref, Hana Goda, to name just a few, and they have achieved good results internationally. What do you expect and what are the prospects for the future of the table tennis in Africa?
I agree with you; I believe African players have great potential! One of my dreams is to forward what I have learned during my visits to Germany, Japan and China to African players. I have seen how well and professionally the players in Asia and Europe train. I believe, even slowly, we can build similar environments in our countries to produce better players and better results.
The men’s singles final underlined the fact it was a match between two of the world’s top players. Asia and Europe have long been leading the table tennis world, but the balance of power has changed in recent years. Players from Pan America and Middle East as well as Africa are joining the world’s top.
Omar Assar is now a living legend in Africa and a role model for many players. He left his home country at a young age; he has continued to practise in foreign countries such as Sweden and Germany. He has continuously succeeded internationally. Most notably he reached the men’s singles quarter-finals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
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