Egyptian table tennis player Ibrahim Hamadtou captured the world’s attention on Wednesday for his inspiring grit and determination to play table tennis with no arms, showcasing the diversity of sports and the importance of inclusion for people with disabilities.
Despite losing his performance against South Korea’s Park Hong-kyu in the Class 6 qualifiers, the Egyptian player went viral on the Internet and was featured on several global platforms, such as Fox News, the Daily Mail and Business Insider.
Having lost both his arms at the age of ten, Hamadtou stunned viewers with his impressive performance in controlling the bat with his mouth.
Speaking to CNN in 2014, Hamadtou recalled how difficult it was for him to continue playing the sport after the accident. “I had to practice hard for three consecutive years on a daily basis. At the beginning, people were amazed and surprised seeing me playing. They encouraged and supported me a lot and they were very proud of my willing, perseverance and determination,” he said.
— CBC Sports (@cbcsports) August 26, 2021
Hamadtou’s journey began in 2014, when was nominated for the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Sports Innovation Award in Dubai and was awarded the best Arab Athlete of the year, pushing him to later win the silver medal in the 2015 African Championships.
The ultimate breakthrough came to him in 2016, when he reached Rio for his first Paralympics after qualifying with a second in the 2016 African Championships. He finished 11th in the Class 6 singles and ninth in the teams’ event.
“My goal in Tokyo 2021 is to be in good form; play better than in Rio to achieve a medal in this tournament. My message to the Egyptian and African players is: nothing is impossible,” he said after the tournament.