New Level Set in Sendai, Same Again for Dina Meshref in Rio de Janeiro?
Courtesy of ITTF
Titles in the continent of Africa but a main draw place secured at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in the Japanese city of Sendai underlined the fact that Egypt’s Dina Meshref had risen to new heights; she became the first player from Africa ever to achieve the feat.
A place in the last 16 was realized and that is the goal the 22 year old from Cairo has set herself at the forthcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games; the table tennis events commencing on Saturday August 6th.
“I am very excited to go to Rio and play in the Olympics again”, said Dina Meshref when speaking to Olalekan Okusan, the Press Officer for the African Table Tennis Federation.
“It was such a great experience to play and win in London, so I am really looking forward to Rio; it is my source of motivation to practice really hard”, added Dina Meshref
In England’s capital city she had emerged successful in what was arguably the best match in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event.
She beat Russia’s Yana Noskova by the minimal two point margin in a thrilling seven games duel (12-10, 8-11, 4-11, 9-11, 14-12, 11-9, 11-9). One round later, Dina Meshref was beaten by Romania’s Elizabeta Samara (7-11, 11-7, 13-11, 11-6, 11-8), the current European champion.
Now on her second appearance in the prestigious quadrennial event, the task is to climb at least two steps higher.
It is a target that is within reach for the player who booked her place in the Women’s Singles event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by becoming the first Egyptian to emerge as the gold medalist in the African Games in Congo Brazzaville.
“I was so happy to win the Women’s Singles’ title in Congo Brazzaville last September; what made me happy was that it was the first time for any Egyptian woman had won”, explained Dina Meshref. “Also the competition was really tough; I had to play the top notch Africans to win the title, so I felt that I earned the win.”
At 2015 African Games, in the latter stages of the Women’s Singles event, she accounted for Congo Brazzaville’s Han Xing in the penultimate round (9-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-9, 11-4, 11-8) before securing the title at the final expense of colleague Nadeen El-Dawlaty (7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 14-12, 11-9).
“However, competing in Brazil is totally different, the level is much higher”, stressed Dina Meshref. “If I want to perform well there, I know I must work harder.”
Undoubtedly, there is no substitute for hard work but it is a somewhat different situation from London in 2012.
The fact that two Egyptians contested the final in Congo Brazzaville and both are en route to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games underlines the progress Dina Meshref and Nadeen El-Dawlatly have made in the past four years.
“I am pleased that I will also be playing in the team event in the Olympic Games for a second time; I hope we could perform well, I am preparing for the Olympic Games by having two training camps in China and Austria”, continued Dina Meshref.
At the London 2012 Olympic Games, Raghd Magdy joined forces with Dina Meshref and Nadeen El-Dawlatly in the Women’s Team event; in Rio de Janeiro it will be Yousra Abdelrazek.
“The Olympic Games is special because qualifying for it is not easy; also, it is held every four years”, said Dina Meshref. “Moreover, playing in the Olympic Games with the crowds cheering for you in a huge playing hall is fun and makes you feel inspired.”
It is a very special event and a showcase for table tennis; people will come to watch a discipline because it is the Olympic Games.
“Of course, I am a bit under pressure because I really want to achieve a good result, I feel I am in the best shape of my career”, added Dina Meshref. “I believe that hard work always pays off and I am definitely working hard, I don’t think the absence of the Men’s Team will affect the female team in Brazil.”
The Egyptian Men’s Team did not qualify to compete in Rio de Janeiro but both Omar Assar and Khaled Assar will compete in the Men’s Singles event.
“One can never know what may happen in Brazil and I just wish to perform really well”, concluded Dina Meshref. “I also wish to make history and win some hard matches.”
In Sendai she made history; quite possible she will do the same again in Rio de Janeiro.