by Olalekan Okusan
The Alexandria-born holds the record as the most successful athlete at the biennial African Championship having dominated men’s singles class 4 from 2007 to 2019.
Ranked no.10 in the world in men’s class 4, Mohamed Sameh Eid Saleh is the face of para table tennis in Egypt with a huge followership across the North Africa.
Regarded as one of the experienced players from Africa, Mohamed Sameh Eid Saleh has to his credit a bronze at 2010 World Championships as well as five African titles.
He remains the only para table tennis from North Africa to succeed at the Paralympic Games and the last African Paralympics medallist when his effort at London 2012 secured a bronze medal in men’s class singles class 4.
To make it to the semi-final at London 2012, Mohamed Sameh Eid Saleh started his campaign from the group stage where he was drawn in Group F alongside Slovakia’s Peter Mihalik and Venezuela’s Edson Gomez.
In the group encounter, Mohamed Sameh Eid Saleh was unbeaten to top the group. He overcame the Slovak (9-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8) as well as the Venezuelan 3-2 (11-9, 9-11, 11-5, 12-10) to reach the quarter-final.
Notable in the last eight, he was faced the experienced Chinese Guo Xingyuan, a medallist at the Beijing 2008 Games. Mohamed Sameh Eid Saleh was not intimidated by the record of the Chinese. He prevailed in three games (11-6, 11-9, 11-8) to reach in the semi-final. In the penultimate round, he was faced with another Paralympic medallist and eventual gold medallist Kim Younggun of Korea Republic; this was where he met his defeat despite putting up a good fight. The Egyptian fell (11-6, 13-11, 6-11, 11-7) and thus faced a bronze medal contest.
Against Frenchman Maxime Thomas in the third place engagement, Mohamed Sameh Eid Saleh was not ready to leave London empty handed. He fought hard against the European to record an emphatic victory (10-12, 11-7, 11-8, 11-8).
Although Mohamed Sameh Eid Saleh had said that Tokyo would be his last outing at the Paralympic Games, the Egyptian however admitted that gaining a ticket to Tokyo was the toughest experience in his career.
“I am so excited that I will be going to my fifth Paralympic Games in Tokyo but I must admit that it was a difficult route for me this year. My opponent is a good player and I think he is still young and can still make it to the Paralympic Games. Generally, this has been the toughest qualification for me and I am so happy that I will become the first African para table tennis player to compete in five Paralympic Games.” Mohamed Sameh Eid Saleh
He described Nigeria’s Isau Ogunkunle whom he regarded as his toughest opponent in his career as the future of the sport in Africa.
“I don’t think I can continue playing because I am grateful to God for giving the chance to make it to the fifth Paralympic Games and I hope the young ones can continue where we stop.” Mohamed Sameh Eid Saleh
Mohamed Sameh Eid Saleh