The first time Ibrahima Diaw touch a table tennis table, he was seven years-old and in a space of two decades, he has become Africa third best ranked player.
Just few months ago, he became the first Senegalese to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after defeating Africa number one ranked player, Nigerian Aruna Quadri.
Describing the match that took place in Tunisia in an interview with Olympics Channel, the 27-years-old said he felt fulfilled defeating the Nigerian.
“It was a revenge match against Aruna, because at the African Cup in August in Lagos, I lost to him and I really felt that I had the level to beat him.”
“Aruna has a good forehand and when he touched the frame it was almost impossible to control the ball. I stayed close to the table, tried to put a lot of pressure on him,” he recounted.
“When I was leading 3-0, I saw the Olympics. The match was stopped for 10 minutes as he felt some pain on his hamstring. When we got back, we played topspin, topspin, topspin, topspin… I was like, ‘Is he really injured?’ But I put pressure on him and finally I beat the best African player. It was unbelievable!” Diaw added of his (11-7, 11-8, 11-8, 6-11, 11-13, 11-7) victory against the top seed.
In August, Ibrahima almost caused an upset at the ITTF Africa Cup against Aruna in the quarterfinal as the Senegalese made Quadri toil for every point before eventually losing in the 7th set (4-3 (9-11, 11-4, 11-3, 7-11, 11-2, 7-11, 12-10), a match the Senegalese regrettably lost.