The 2019 Africa Para Table Tennis (PTT) Championships serves off today with African players jostling for the points which will ensure their qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games in Japan.
All the participating teams – Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, Tunisia, Côte d’Ivoire, and Libya have all arrived in Egypt where they are being accommodated at the Plaza Grand Hotel in Alexandria ahead of the championship which could determine their chances of featuring in the 2020 Paralympic Games.
Although several players have already picked up points from major ITTF-sanctioned para tournaments this year, the Africa Para Table Tennis (PTT) Championships in Alexandria, is the biggest guarantee of their participation in Tokyo.
South Africa’s Theo Cogill who picked up a bronze medal at the just concluded Egypt Para Open expressed cautious optimism about his chances of winning in Alexandria.
“I am aiming to secure my place here but I don’t like boasting before any tournament. I am quite optimistic that I will make it here in Egypt,” the South African star said.
While Cogill might have been understated, his closest rival in the men’s Class 10, Nigeria’s Olufemi Ajayi was anything but, declaring that he would be unstoppable in Egypt.
“I don’t see anybody stopping me because I have not been stopped in previous tournaments. I know the South African player is my arch-rival but I am ready for any opponent to pick up the maximum points in the tournament,” the Nigerian said.
Speaking on Saturday, the eve of the championships, President of Africa Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), Khaled Al-Salhy said while a number of players will surely secure their qualification to Tokyo in Egypt, there still will be other opportunities for players to stake a claim for a place at Tokyo 2020.
“It is clear that some players can get their Tokyo 2020 qualification license from this tournament but those are the winners of all classes provided they should have a minimum limit of ranking points to be announced by ITTF soon. But those players who will not have the required limit of ranking points but they are winners here, they should fulfill their points rate through participation in ITTF PTT events within the coming six months,” the ATTF boss said.