2017 remains one of the best years for table tennis in Africa as the continent’s two best players made giant stride at global stage.

Apart from the indelible mark made by African players, Egypt’s Omar Assar became the first player in Africa to make the top 20 in the ITTF World Ranking while Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri became the first player from the continent to win an ITTF Title outside the continent with his triumph at the 2017 Polish Open.

When 2017 started, Omar Assar was ranked among the top 50 players in the world while Aruna Quadri began the year being 25th in the world rating.

And by sheer determination coupled with hardwork, Omar Assar achieved the biggest feat in his career when he made it to the top 20 in the October 2017 ITTF ranking while Aruna Quadri who started 2017 at 25 set a new feat for himself by ending the year at 21.

It was clear from the beginning of 2017 that Omar Assar was determined to achieve three goals.

The goals were making it to the top 20 in the world ranking, qualifying for the World Cup as well as joining a top European club.

At the end of the 2017, Omar Assar achieved the goals and the Egyptian was quick to say, “I am so happy that all the goals I set for myself were achieved.

“I wanted to set a new record in Africa by becoming the first player to make it to the top 20 in the world, I am so happy that this became a reality. Also I was determined to qualify for the world cup unfortunately I lost to Aruna Quadri at the African Cup in Morocco but I was determined to go to the world cup and I knew the only way was through my world ranking. So I started working hard and when the final list was made public, I made the cut for the world cup. At the beginning of the year, I was playing in the French League but I wanted to play in the top league and I believe Bundesliga will surely help my game. Fortunately, I was signed by Werder Bremen and one of the goals with the team was to be among the best in the league. When we started we were seventh on the league table and by the end of the year, we were in the second place and also in the semifinal of the German Cup,” he said.

For Omar Assar, the feat set by Aruna Quadri and himself should inspire more Africans to aim high. “I believe our hardwork paid off for us having played together in the French League while we continue to practice regularly in our various clubs. I think with what Aruna and I have achieved, we believe more players from Africa should take a cue from us and aim high in their career,” he added.

Omar Assar however, set a new target for himself. His words: “My main target in 2018 is to make the top 10 in the world ranking which I believe is achievable and to ensure I achieve this, I have entered into agreement with a Chinese coach – Chen Zhibin who will be my coach for 2018. I believe with this I can improve my game and fulfill my dream.”

For Aruna Quadri, he has set a new record as the first African player to make it to the quarterfinal stage of the ETTU Champions League after his Portuguese team – Sporting qualified to the last eight of the competition after finishing second in Group A of the championships.

Sporting has now been pitched against France’s Stella Sport La Romagne and Aruna Quadri is expected to lead the Portuguese side when the quarterfinal round hold between Sunday 24th and Tuesday 26th January; the return being on Friday 9th February, 2018.