Since her appearance at the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil, Safa Saidani has become a role model to a lot of Tunisian table tennis players and this became obvious during the ITTF African Junior Championship in Tunis as she was present to inspire the home team to victory.

Safa Saidani who will be marking her 27th birthday on May 26 will be joined by teenage sensation – Garci Fadwa to represent Tunisia in the women’s singles and doubles of the 2017 ITTF World Championship in Dusseldorf, Germany is hoping to cross the hurdle of the preliminary round.

Savouring the excitement of playing at the big stage, Safa Saidani said: “The World Championships is undoubtedly the biggest Table Tennis event in the world. I am very happy to participate for the 3rd time. To be frank, in the midst of the best players in the world, it is very difficult to go far in this competition. Crossing the preliminary rounds and playing the knockout round will be my main objective. Also, the main objective in this competition is to represent Tunisia well, earn points and climb in the world rankings after the Rio Olympic Games.”

Describing the feeling of wearing Tunisia colours at big stage, she said: “Safa: “Representing ones’ country is always the greatest honour of any athlete. I thank all the persons who have contributed since my young age until today to offer me this opportunity.”

Despite the injury she had during the preparation for the World Championships, Safa Saidani is optimistic that she can inspire the young Garci Fadwa in Germany. “Unfortunately, I was injured for three weeks and this disrupted my preparation for the World Championships. Since my return to training, I have tried with my coach Ghazi BELKAHIA to find my feelings in order to be in top shape for the tournament,” she added.

The Olympian is not giving up on possible outstanding performance from African players. “In recent years, African players have taken an important step on the international scene, especially with Quadri Aruna at Rio making it to the quarterfinals in men’s singles. Also, Egypt’s Dina Meshref also made some very nice performances, just like Omar Assar. There is nothing stopping them from making the surprise this year and win a medal.”