Kenya picks two players for continental table tennis championship
NAIROBI, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- With less than 40 days to go until the start of the International Table Tennis Federation - Africa Top 16 Championships scheduled for March, Kenya on Wednesday named two players to represent the East African nation.
Sejal Thakkar and Bryan Mutua are putting the final touches on their game as they go head-to-head with Africa's most respected table tennis stars, and the local organizing committee headed by Joseph Okello is working around the clock to ensure all is well ahead of the prestigious championship.
"The tournament is a special event in the hearts and minds of the continental table tennis community," Okello said, adding that it is a privilege to host the continent's most challenging men's and women's event, which holds the key to the World Cup slots for the continent.
This year's Africa Top 16 will include the continent's top players, who have encouraged many new regional competitors to show interest in the Nairobi 2018 edition.
Cup holders Aruna Quadri of Nigeria and Meshref Dina of Egypthave confirmed participation and are expected to be star attractions at the event, Andrew Mudibo, President of Kenya Table Tennis Association, told journalists in Nairobi.
Mutua is one of the fastest rising Kenyan youngsters and a prodigy from Mwala High School, Kenya's leading school in the game.
Thakkar will make her fourth appearance at this year's Commonwealth Games to represent Kenya in the women's category soon after competing at the continental competition.
"Passion for the game is what drives me and brings me back to the table tennis time and again. Playing against the best in Africa, some of who I have interacted with in the past will be a moment to savor for long," she said.
She said most of the players are ranked globally and playing against them will improve the duo's ranking and prepare them for the Commonwealth Games.
Sami Kherouf of Algeria will represent the Northern region in the men's category while Brian Chan Yook Fo will do duty for Mauritius.
Assar Omar and Saleh Ahmed will represent Egypt while Africa's leading player, Toriola Segun of Nigeria, who is a veteran of seven Olympic Games, will represent the West African nation.
Others are Mamia Thameur (Tunisia), Idowu Saheed (Congo), Oba Oba Chizito (Cote de Ivorie), Soufiane Harb (Morocco) and the South African duo of Lingeveldt Kurt and Lingeveldt Keegan.
The ladies category will have 16-year-old Prathma Jalim of Mauritius, Saidani Safa (Tunisia), Oshonaike Olufunke (Nigeria), Abdel-Aziz Farah (Egypt), Nigerian Olympian Edem Offiong, and Algerian duo of Loghraibi Lynda and Laid slem.
Others are Han Xing of the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire's Sarah Hanffou of Ping Sans Frontieres, Tshepiso Rebatenne of Cameroon and Okockou Ira of Congo. The central, western and southern regions are yet to submit names of their qualifiers.[ Editor: Liu Jiaming ]