A long wait, soon that wait will be over for Saudi Arabia’s Ali Alkhadrawi.
Five months hence, he anticipated making his debut in the Olympic Games, 17 months hence, on Saturday 24th July, the occasion will be realised.
The now 24 year old qualified to compete in the men’s singles event in Tokyo by emerging successful at the Western Asia Qualification tournament staged in the Jordanian capital city of Amman from Sunday 23rd to Wednesday 26th February 2020, a time when thoughts of a global pandemic were distant rumours.
Five hard fought matches were required for Ali Alkhadrawi in order to gain his ticket to Tokyo; not one success was achieved in straight games.
In the initial phase he beat Kuwait’s Ibrahem Al-Hasan (12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9) and Bahrain’s Mohamed Saleh (11-13, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7) to secure group top spot.
A place in the main draw secured, he accounted for Qatar’s Ahmed Al-Mohannadi (7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7, 11-6), prior to withstanding a spirited recovery by Jordan’s Zaid Abo Yaman (11-4, 11-7, 11-4, 8-11, 4-11, 8-11, 11-9).
Semi-final success in dramatic fashion, in the deciding contest life was less exacting, he beat Lebanon’s Dauud Cheaib in five games (11-7, 12-10, 6-11, 11-4, 11-8).
Success for Ali Alkhadrawi means he becomes the third player from Saudi Arabia to gain a place in the table tennis events at an Olympic Games.
Approaching 30 years ago, Raid Al-Hamdan competed in Barcelona; later in 2004, Khalid Bandar Al Harbi was present in Athens.
Both found life difficult; in illustrious company Raid Al-Hamdan finished in fourth place in his preliminary phase group behind China’s Wang Tao, Japan’s Koji Matsushita and Nigeria’s Yom Bankole.
Similarly, in an age when the knock-out formula had replaced the group system in the initial stage, Khalid Bandar Al Harbi was beaten on his first visit to the table by Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic.
Now, in Tokyo can Ali Alkhadrawi exceed the efforts of his predecessors; that is his goal.
Editor: Ian Marshall