For more than three years, Shane Overmeyer has been obviously missing in the South African team to major competitions and this has also reflected in the below-par performance of the team.

At 38, Shane Overmeyer announced his return when he claimed the Southern African region sole slot to the 2018 ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup holding in Nairobi, Kenya from March 1 to 3.

An excited Shane Overmeyer said: “It feels great especially winning my first African competition in the region tournament in Botswana. I always knew that I was going to come back into South African national team after getting married in 2014. My main motivation was that the current South African men’s team is not doing that well and the world ranking has dropped since the last time I played. So I want to help the team to better our ranking in Africa, the world and Commonwealth as well. Also with my experience I felt that they need my guidance so that is why my role in the team is player/coach at the moment.”

Aware of what lies ahead of him in Kenya, the seven-time South African champion said: “I know it is going to be very tough with the likes of Quadri Aruna and Omar Assar having achieved unbelievable results in the last few years and record breaking world rankings as African players as this was never done before and the level of play is much higher now than a few years ago. My aim is to finish in top eight of the men’s singles.”

On his readiness for Kenya challenge, the highest-ever ranked South African at 320 in the world added: “Physically I am in good shape and I think I just need to spend more time on the table. I am looking forward to the challenge though and I also think when you represent your country there is always going to be pressure to play well and do your best. I think for me it is no different as I always try to do my best when I play for my country.”

Shane Overmeyer attributed the dominance of Nigeria and Egypt to structure. “I think Nigeria and Egypt continue to dominate the sport because they have better structure in their countries in the form of coaching and competitions and also they put in more hours in training to better their game. So if everyone has the mentality to be the best then automatically the level of play will go up and there will always be good competition. It is simple if you want to be the best you simply got to take yourself serious and put in the hard work.”