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Egypt’s Omar Assar assails Aruna’s limit



Omar Assar (EGY) jubilates after his round of 16 triumph in Tokyo on Tuesday July 27, 2021.

Egypt’s Omar Assar has equaled Quadri Aruna’s Olympic Games record as the second African player to reach the quarterfinal stage of the men’s singles table tennis event at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Nigeria’s Aruna became the first African to reach the quarterfinal after his quarterfinal finish at Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

But yesterday at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Assar continued with his good run with a close 4-3 (11-8, 6-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-7) win over Chinese Taipei’s veteran Chih Yuan Chuang in the round of 16 tie of the men’s singles.

However, it was the end of the road for Aruna after the Nigerian fell 4-2 (15-13, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7, 7-11, 6-11) to Brazil’s Gustavo Tsuboi in the third round tie.

Starting his campaign from the second round, Assar beat Ukraine’s Lei Kou 4-3 (15-13, 11-6, 11-4, 6-11, 8-11, 9-11, 11-4) to book his place in the fourth round.

In the fourth round, the Egyptian star defeated World vice-champion, Sweden’s Mattias Falck 4-3 (11-5, 6-11, 8-11, 13-11, 4-11, 11-6, 11-8) to berth in the last 16.

Just like Aruna at Rio 2016, Assar will face his biggest task in Tokyo as he is expected to battle World and Olympic Champion China’s Ma Long in one of the quarterfinal matches of the men’s singles on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.

After his triumph in the round of 16, Assar described his win as an awesome feat, which he attributed to the support he got from his family in Germany and Egypt.

He described his opponent as an experienced and legend of the game.

“Thank God I am very honoured really today for my performance and I am very proud also for the support I got from all my families who woke up for me early this morning in Germany my wife and in Egypt. I felt supported and proud to represent Egypt in the quarterfinal and this is very big for me.”

“The match was a very tight one because I played a very long match against Mattias Falck in the fourth round this morning and I had to practice few minutes to play this match the round of 16 match. My opponent is a very good player and I respect him having played together in the same club in France,” Assar said.

Ahead of the tie against Ma Long, Assar said: “Ma Long is the greatest of all time, I am playing well here and I will do my best against him.”    

In the women’s singles, the surviving African Egypt’s Dina Meshref failed to capitalize on her lead to surrender the third round tie to Netherlands’ Britt Eerland at 4-3 (11-9, 11-3, 11-7, 6-11, 5-11, 8-11, 7-11) to exit the tournament.

Egypt is expected to face China in the round of 16 tie in the men’s team event while the women’s team will battle Romania in the round of 16 on Sunday, August 1, 2021.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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