The scramble for a spot in next year’s 3rd Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires for African teams will take place in Tunis on April 16 to 17 immediately after the African Junior and Cadet Championships.
According to the President, ITTF Africa, Khaled El-Salhy, the continent is aiming for making the podium again after Tunisia’s Adem Hmam became the first table tennis player from the continent to win a medal after a bronze medal in the mixed doubles event.
“Africa was on the podium at the 1st YOG that was held in 2010 in Singapore (by the bronze medal of Adem Hmam in the mixed doubles), thus such event is very important to us and gives much promotion to our top junior players. For the Youth Games next year, Africa has four spots made up of two boys and two girls and for the qualification, each African Association is entitled to take part with one boy and a girl. Such player must be born on or after 2000 as the qualified players should be 18 by next year in Buenos Aires (i.e. in Tunisia, the qualification tournament the player will be 17),” ITTF boss said.
He explained that the qualifiers is open to all African national associations but said: “Each national association is to select only 1 boy and 1 girl, while the two qualified boys will be from two different countries, and the same for girls as well.
“There will be final 2 boys & 2 girls qualifying for YOG, then Africa will have 2 mixed teams plus the single events, in case a country will be qualified with 1 boy & 1 girl, then they will be together as the 1st mixed team, while in case the 4 qualified players will come from 4 different Associations, then we will arrange with their NOCs to combine them into 2 mixed teams in the name of Africa 1 & Africa 2,” he added.
On the format of play, Khaled El-Salhy said: “The players will be divided into groups with maximum of five players per group to play round robin for classification. The top two players in each group to play in the knockout stage for final positions, while the finalists will qualify directly to Buenos Aires as the continent’s representatives.”
He however predicted stiff competitions among the participating as it would not be business as usual for Nigeria and Egypt. “Expect countries like Algeria, Angola and maybe Congo Brazzaville can alter the status quo at the qualifiers.”