Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Table tennis team upbeat about Africa Youth Games prospects

The Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA) is optimistic the country’s youth team will represent the country well during the upcoming 2nd Africa Youth Games (AYG). This is despite the youth team’s failure to make a greater impact at the recent Cadet and Youth Championships which were held in Cairo, Egypt this past week.

By failing to make it past the first hurdle of the Cadet and Youth Championships, the team failed to qualify for the Africa Youth Olympic Qualifiers and ultimately failed to qualify for the Nanjing Youth Olympics.

The team, which arrived back home this past Friday, will now start focusing on preparing for the Gaborone 2014 Youth Games. Speaking in an interview, the BTTA Publicity Secretary, Lelentle Mokhupuki said despite the failures, the team has gained much needed exposure from the games and will now be well prepared for the Africa Youth Games.

“This was the first continental tournament for our youth teams and we believe it will give them an idea of what to expect during the Gaborone 2014 Youth Games,” the BTTA Publicity Secretary said.
She said while the youth players had competed in regional tournaments, competing in the continental championships against table tennis powerhouses from North Africa was a new venture for the youth teams.

Mokhupuki said as the BTTA, the championships also gave them an idea as to where they rank in the continent. She said that despite failing to land to qualify for the Africa Youth Olympic Qualifiers and ultimately the Nanjing Olympics, all was not lost as two of the team’s athletes, namely Olorato Ramagapu and Peo Thebe managed to get continental rankings. Ramagapu is now ranked ninth in the girls’ category in the continent while Thebe is ranked tenth in the boys’ continental rankings. The two won their individual matches against players from Djibouti to get their rankings. Going into the 2nd Africa Youth Games, the BTTA Publicity Secretary said the youth team will now know how to handle their more illustrious opponents.

“At the championships, our players had the opportunity to come up against among others Egypt, who are the best and eventually won, most gold at the championships. These are some of the very same opponents they will come up against during the Africa Youth Games. We believe that now they will be aware of the type of opponents they will face here and will now be able to better compete against them,” Mokhupuki opined. Meanwhile, the youth team is currently competing in the ongoing Gaborone Open 2014 as part of their preparations for the games. The tournament, which has attracted competitors from the region among others, is expected to further test the preparedness of the team.

“After the Gaborone Open, we expect that the team will then continue training and will also have a camp. On the 17th of May, just before the Africa Youth Games, they will then compete in the Botswana Open. This will be their last competitive tournament before the games and we believe it will give us a perfect measure of how we will cope during the Gaborone 2014 Youth Games,” the BTTA Publicity Secretary explained. She said the Botswana Open championship, which is also expected to test BTTA’s preparedness to organize games for the Gaborone 2014 Games, is expected to attract players from many countries from the continent, including those from North Africa.

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