Nigeria's Offiong Edem hopes to make a fifth Olympic appearance. ATTF

The race to secure tickets to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games is underway as the African Qualification Tournament begins today at the BK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda's capital city, the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) announced in a press release earlier today. 

Over the next three days, 26 men and 24 women from Algeria, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, Madagascar, Mauritius, Tunisia, Uganda, and host Rwanda, will rally to become one of the six players —three men and three women—  who will proceed to the Paris Olympic Games.

While most of the contenders are still fresh from the just-concluded 2024 ITTF Africa Cup, all eyes are on the top seeds, Nigeria’s Olajide Omotayo and Offiong Edem, who are both medalists at the Africa Cup.

Omotayo, who made his debut at Tokyo 2020, aims to return to the biggest sports fiesta in the world. However, he would have to be at his best against strong contenders like young athletes Wassim Essid of Tunisia, Cameroon’s Ylane Batix, Madagascar’s Fabio Rakotoarimanana, and experienced players like Congo Brazzaville’s Saheed Idowu and Algeria’s Mehdi Bouloussa.

Algeria’s Mehdi Bouloussa will be one of the contenders vying for a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympics. ATTF
Algeria’s Mehdi Bouloussa will be one of the contenders vying for a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympics. ATTF

Going by his performance at the Africa Cup, the 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medalist should seal his place in Paris tomorrow when the finalists in men and women events will secure their slots to Paris.

Omotayo's compatriot, Edem, a bronze medalist at the 2023 African Games, is eager to make her fifth Olympic Games appearance, having competed at Athens 2004, London 2012, Rio 2016, and Tokyo 2020.

But the former African Games champion has the 2010 African Champion, Cameroon’s Sarah Hanffou, to contend with. Hanffou is aiming for her third appearance at the Olympic Games, after competing at London 2012 and Tokyo 2020. 

However, Edem and Hanffou are expected to face stiff competition from Tunisia’s Fadwa Garci and other young contenders from Madagascar and Mauritius.