Madagascan Table Tennis Player Shines at African Olympic Qualification Tournament

Emerging Talent Shines at African Olympic Qualification Tournament in Kigali

Kigali, Rwanda – The recently concluded African Olympic Qualification Tournament in the Rwandan capital witnessed a historic moment for table tennis in Madagascar. 21-year-old Fabio Rakotoarimanana became the first Madagascan table tennis player to secure a spot at the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games, triumphing in the first stage of the qualifiers.

The three-day tournament, hosted by the Rwanda Table Tennis Federation (RTTF) at the BK Arena, featured 50 players from 14 countries. Rakotoarimanana, the reigning East African champion, defied the odds to earn one of the three available tickets in the men’s singles event.

“This will surely not be the last time we will be going to the Olympic Games, and I believe I will train well to be able to compete with the best players in the world in Paris,” he said.

After navigating through the group stage and reaching the semifinals, Rakotoarimanana faced a stiff challenge from Tunisian teenager Wassim Essid. However, the Madagascan prevailed in a thrilling 4-3 encounter (13-11, 8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 4-11, 11-9) to secure his historic Olympic berth.

Elsewhere, Algeria’s Mehdi Bouloussa had to wait until the second stage of the qualifiers to book his maiden Olympic ticket to Paris 2024. Bouloussa, who was edged out by Essid in the first stage, avenged his defeat and clinched the ticket with a commanding 4-0 (16-14, 11-4, 11-8, 11-4) win over Congo Brazzaville’s Saheed Idowu.

“I am eagerly looking forward to qualifying for the Olympic Games because the Games will take place just five minutes from my home in Paris, and I cannot wait to be part of it,” Bouloussa shared.

Cameroon’s Sarah Hanffou, a former African champion, will make her third Olympic appearance in Paris after overcoming Nigeria’s Fatimo Bello 4-2 (1-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7) in the first stage of the qualification tournament.

Nigerian players showcased their dominance, with Bello, Olajide Omotayo, and Offiong Edem all securing their spots for the Paris 2024 Olympics. Edem, a five-time Olympian, kicked off the Nigerian ticket sweep by defeating Tunisia’s Fadwa Garci 4-2 (11-9, 8-11, 11-13, 11-1, 11-8, 11-6). Omotayo, making his second Olympic appearance, defeated Congo Brazzaville’s Idowu 4-0 (11-6, 11-4, 12-10, 11-7).

Bello, who had initially lost to Hanffou in the first stage, bounced back in the second stage, securing her maiden Olympic berth with a 4-2 (11-5, 11-7, 11-8, 5-11, 9-11, 11-9) win over Algeria’s Lynda Loghraibi.

The participation of these athletes in the Paris 2024 Olympics remains subject to the selection and approval of their respective National Olympic Committees.

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