DURBAN, South Africa, May 26 (Xinhua) -- With two days to go before the historic 2023 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships (WTTC) Finals concluded in Durban, South Africa, the table tennis governing body highly praised the event.
Discussing her impression of the tournament, ITTF president Petra Sorling said, "Proud."
"I'm actually extremely proud," the ITTF chief told a press conference here on Friday.
"I'm proud of what table tennis can do. I'm proud of the whole table tennis family that entrusted South Africa to have this event. I'm very proud of the way South Africa took this challenge. Hopefully this can also bring in many new table tennis players here in South Africa," the Swede added.
This year's World Championships marks the first time that the tournament has been staged in Africa for 84 years. On Thursday, Egypt's Omar Assar became the second African player to reach the World Championships quarterfinals, following Nigeria's Quadri Aruna's historic achievement two years ago in Houston.
For Sorling, the championships "hold a historical significance. Undoubtedly this will inspire a new generation of table tennis enthusiasts. We hope that many kids saw this yesterday and will be inspired to play table tennis."
"Hosting the World Championships here in Durban is not just a celebration of our spot. It's a testament to our dedication to spreading the love of table tennis across different continents and cultures," she said.
"We sincerely hope that this event has served as an inspiration to all, spreading the positive influence of table tennis far and wide," the ITTF head added.
Yusuf Carrim, president of the South African Table Tennis Board, revealed that all tickets for the last two competition days have been sold out, which is "unbelievable."
"I need to pay tribute to the table tennis family for taking this massive journey to our shores. We are on a way to positioning our sport as a major sport in our country," he commented.
ITTF Group CEO Steve Dainton said Assar's breakthrough in the tournament was "awesome."
"That's what we need in our sport. More players from different parts of the world competing at the highest level," said Dainton.
"We are super proud. We are super excited. What they have done is to showcase our strength, and they've also shown that anything is possible, and the possibility of an African player winning the World Championships is around the corner," Carrim assured.
The historic Durban table tennis worlds and Assar's achievements coincide with the ITTF's vision of making table tennis a truly global sport.
"Everywhere we take our event, especially now as we are going to markets that we were not before, will make people aware of our sport, because when you make our sport more visible, that is also how we can grow table tennis," explained Sorling.
"Our vision is to have more spectators. At the same time, we are aware when you take your sport to a new market, it takes time to create awareness on how beautiful the sport is," she added.
"For the 2027 individual World Championships, we would love to be able to go to another new market, whether that's South America or Oceania, because it's a wonderful opportunity to spread the sport. We want to be truly global as a sport," said Dainton. ■