Egyptian table tennis player Omar Assar has improved on his own African, Egyptian and Arab record to move up to 20th position in November's International Table Tennis Federation world rankings.
“Being ranked number 20 worldwide is not the end of our fairy tale,” Assar's agent, Mohie Fouda, told Ahram Online on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old, who currently plays for German club Werder Bremen, become the highest-ever rated African player in October when he was ranked 21st after surpassing Nigerian player Aruna Quadri, who was ranked 25th in September 2016.
Assar is also the best-ranked Egyptian player ever, breaking the best previous record by Sayed Lashin, who was ranked 76th in 2013.
"Omar was ranked number 57 at the beginning of this season and now he is number 20, which shows pretty well how committed he is in his trainings and how ambitious he is," Fouda said.
“Egypt's name is now at the top level alongside big names like China and Japan,” he added.
“Another good thing is that Omar is supposed to become the 15th starting from next month, according to the new rules recently approved by the International Table Tennis Federation for the ranking system.”
A story full of difficulties, determination and good results was behind the recent success of Omar, who began his long journey from his home town Dessouk, according to his agent.
"Assar has managed to achieve astonishing records despite the very little support he gets and the problems that he keeps on experiencing," the agent said.
“Being in the top 15 in the world was nothing but a dream Omar has always wanted to achieve. He decided to redouble his efforts in the trainings and started to take personal trainings under the supervision of the best coaches in the world, in addition to his training sessions with his club. Whenever his ranking becomes better he always reminds himself that he still could do better and this isn’t the end of the road.
“Omar last year played for Marseille in France and has been honoured as the best player in the French League by winning 83 percent of his matches throughout the season. Last year he also played for Egypt’s Ahly and has won both the African Cup in Morocco and has helped the club to win the league title.”
“He also represented Egypt at the World Cup last month where he was unfortunately eliminated in round of 16 by the world champion Ma Long of China,” he added.
Medal hopes for Tokyo Olympics
Assar sights are now set on the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“We are always very organised in the way we think, to make him concentrate more in his trainings and achieve better results. In the short term, the main challenge is to end this season with Werder Bremen by winning the German Cup as well as being ranked from the top 10,” explained Fouda.
“As a long term challenge, a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is what we have our eyes on as well as earning a place in the top three in the World Cup, while being ranked in the top five at the Olympics. People might think that our targets aren’t realistic, but believe me, that is what was said at the beginning of the season when we said that we are going to be in the top 20, so nothing is impossible now.
Fouda also hinted that Assar has received plaudits due to his rising star.
“After his outstanding performance this year, Assar recently received an offer that is pretty hard to turn down, but I prefer to announce the details at the end of the current season."
The agent did however call on Egyptian businesses to support the athlete.
“I believe that Omar needs more support from companies worldwide, especially the Egyptian ones, in order to help us achieve our target. Reading his story, seeing what he has achieved and having a look at his targets is something that deserves to be given more recognition and a helping hand,” the agent concluded.
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