Egyptian table tennis athlete and amputee won hearts at Tokyo Paralympic Games – 101 ESPN

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Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP / Getty Images

(TOKYO) – In his second consecutive Paralympic Games, Egyptian table tennis player and amputee Ibrahim Hamadtou continues to produce breathtaking shots using only his mouth.

The 48-year-old lost to South Korea’s Park Hongkyu and China’s Chen Chao in the men’s singles at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, but the importance of his participation goes far beyond the results.

After losing both arms in a train crash at the age of 10 in 1983, Hamadtou embarked on an inspiring table tennis career after being stirred by a negative comment from a friend.

“I was in the club where I offered a match between two of my friends. They did not agree on a point, when I counted the point in favor of one of them, the other player told me not to intervene because you will never be able to play ”, a Hamadtou said in an interview with the International Table Tennis Federation website last year. .

“It was that statement that made me decide to play table tennis.”

Amazing images of Hamadtou holding the paddle in his mouth and fighting back at his opponents went viral in 2014 when he made an appearance at the World Team Championships as a guest of honor, lining up against the best in the world. world.

Two years later, he made his Paralympic debut at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games, once again demonstrating his unique skills.

On serve, Hamadtou knocks the ball over with his right foot and hits it powerfully with the racket he is holding between his teeth. It is a spectacular technique that he seems to be perfecting.

“It took me almost a year of practice to get used to holding the racket with [my] mouth and do the service; with practice and playing regularly, this skill improved, ”he added.

Father of three children, Hamadtou was born in 1973 in Damietta, Egypt.

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