FestivalofTT2022: 42-year-old Egyptian star in love with Lagos reveals Quadri Aruna fears

Egyptian veteran Ahmed Saleh is looking to defend his 2020 title when the competition starts on Thursday.

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Regarded as the oldest active male table tennis player in Africa, Ahmed Saleh cannot wait to compete at the ongoing 2022 Festival of Table Tennis in Lagos, Nigeria.

Saleh has expressed his readiness for the task ahead as he looks to defend his African Cup title, which he reclaimed two years ago in Tunis, Tunisia, against a formidable line up of competitors led by Nigeria's Quadri Aruna.

At 42, Saleh loves to compete in Lagos and as the defending champion of the forthcoming ITTF Africa Cup, the Egyptian veteran believes the atmosphere at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium is a motivating factor for every player.

However, he is particularly concerned about the threat posed by the present form of Aruna, who set a new record as the first African to reach the semifinal of the WTT Star Contender in Doha, Qatar.

Relishing his experience on his previous numerous visits to Lagos, the former African Games champion said:

"Lagos is a unique venue every player will always want to play because of the lively atmosphere with the venue always filled up by the fans. This is a unique venue for table tennis in Africa because no other country has this kind of atmosphere even in some European countries you hardly see this kind of lively spectators who understand the sport. But with the present form of Aruna, I must be at my best to overcome players like him in Lagos."

“It is motivating for us players to play in such an environment that you don’t lack the needed support to want to always give your best. I love the venue and the fans because they support you regardless of your nationality which for me is fair enough for all players,” he said.

The Egyptian may not possess the speed and agility that present-day table tennis demands anymore, but what Saleh has in abundance is his tactical discipline.

“I will always try my best in every competition but I must admit that the speed in the sport is higher now. I will continue to play even at 42 as long as my body can carry me because my life revolves around the sport,” he added.

Meanwhile, the ongoing African Club Championship has reached its final stages, with the finals slated for today. The three-day tournament is part of the 2022 Festival of Table Tennis taking place at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.

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