How physically challenged Hamadtou thrilled fans in Kuala Lumpur

Ibrahim Hamadtou (EGY) during the exhibition match against Japan’s Miu Hirano in Malaysia

Ibrahim Hamadtou (EGY) during the exhibition match against Japan’s Miu Hirano in Malaysia

One of the highlights of this year’s International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Team Championship, which ended yesterday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was an exhibition match played by physically challenged Egyptian, Ibrahim Hamadtou. Nigerian team failed to advance to the elite division of the championship,

In 1983 when young Hamadtou had an accident and lost his arms, he had thought he would not be able to do sports again. But his passion grew for table tennis that at 13, he started playing the game in the city of Kafr Saad, two hours journey by road from Cairo.

“I was 10 when I had an accident and I lost my two arms. I love sports and I really want to take part in it but I could not. Initially, I love playing football but I knew I cannot play because of my challenge. In my city, table tennis was popular so I started playing at 13 and from that I have been playing table tennis,” he said.

Despite his condition, Hamadtou, 42, has become an inspiration to millions of people across the globe.

Just like it happened in 2014 in Tokyo, when Hamadtou played the likes of China’s Ma Long, Japan’s Jun Mizutani and Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, it was same experience when 15-year-old Miu Hirano, the winner of three ITTF World Tour U-21 Women’s Singles titles in addition to four Women’s Doubles titles played against the Egyptian.

At Kuala Lumpur, Hamadtou, who plays by grasping the racket in his mouth, played an exhibition match against Japan’s Miu Hirano, in a specially arranged contest prior to the start of the Women’s Team final at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

School children were not left out of the show, as they took turned to play against the African Ambassador.

Initially, Hamadtou sees table tennis as an avenue to excite him but things turned around for him when in 2011 at the African Paralympics Championship in Egypt, he was part of the Egyptian team that won silver at the tournament. This for him was the turning point.

The event has been made possible with the co-operation between the Japan Sport Council, the Japan Table Tennis Association and ITTF.

Sport for Tomorrow is an initiative promoted by the Japanese government, to promote sports to more than 10 million people in 100 nations between 2014 and 2020. It is one of the commitments made in successful bid to host the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

Already, Ibrahim Hamadtou has secured his place in this year’s Rio Paralympic Games after finishing second at the African Qualifiers held in Agadir, Morocco, in 2015, and he is also hoping to make it to Tokyo 2020.

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