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Egypt’s armless table tennis player ‘a legend,’ Paralympic opponent says

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Egyptian armless table tennis player Ibrahim Hamadtou was YouTube famous before the Paralympics. The awe is shared by at least one of his peers in Rio.

Hamadtou was swept in both of his Class 6 singles matches in his first Paralympics at age 43 last week, including his opener to Great Britain’s David Wetherill.

“He’s a legend in table tennis,” Wetherill, also YouTube famous, said of the only armless player in the competition, according to Agence France-Presse. “I was feeling the pressure, a bit jittery. [Then] you see people like Ibrahim, and you can’t possibly feel nervous: he puts things in perspective, the things he can do.

“In table tennis it is skill versus skill, and I know I won today, but I think he has demonstrated far more skill than I have just now,” Wetherill said, according to the English Table Tennis Federation.

Hamadtou lost his arms above the elbow due to a train accident at age 10.

“After the accident, he stayed shut up at home for three years. He wouldn’t go out,” his coach said, according to AFP.

Hamadtou turned to sport, first soccer, and then table tennis. He said he started the latter at age 13, reportedly taking three years to learn and adapt. He flicks the ball up with his toes and holds the paddle between his teeth.

“I was trying first to use the bat under the arm, and I also tried using other things that weren’t working so well,” Hamadtou said, according to the International Table Tennis Federation. “Finally, I tried using my mouth.”

Though Hamadtou went winless in Rio, he doesn’t see it that way.

“Not all defeats are defeats,” Hamadtou said, according to the International Paralympic Committee. “Sometimes you lose, but you actually win because you have added to your experience, you have added to your knowledge. Today I added to my knowledge.”

MORE: Rio Paralympics broadcast schedule

USA Hockey to start reaching out to potential replacement players

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USA Hockey will begin reaching out to “alternate players” to determine their interest in playing for the U.S. at the women’s world championship next week amid a potential boycott by its national team.

The contact is taking place in the event a resolution cannot be reached between USA Hockey and the women’s national team in a wage dispute.

“It’s important for everyone to understand clearly that our objective is to have the players we named as the U.S. women’s national team be the ones that compete in the world championship,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, in a statement. “Productive conversations have taken place this week and are ongoing in our collective efforts to reach a resolution.”

The alternate players are in the professional NWHL and college, according to USA Today, a report that USA Hockey would not confirm.

U.S. captain Meghan Duggan has said every player in the U.S. national team player pool, plus under-18 national team players, committed to not playing at worlds unless the wage dispute is resolved.

The world championship tournament starts March 31 in Plymouth, Mich.

As of Thursday evening, no resolution has come between USA Hockey and its women’s national team. They met formally on Monday for more than 10 hours, with both sides calling it productive.

Neither side has said when its next scheduled meeting will take place.

On Tuesday, USA Hockey said it postponed a pre-worlds camp that was to run through next Tuesday in Traverse City, Mich., and canceled a scheduled Friday exhibition against Finland.

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MORE: NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

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International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel tells The Associated Press he needs to know by the end of April whether NHL players will be cleared to play in the South Korea Olympics next year.

NHL team owners have made it clear they don’t want to stop their season again for the Winter Games and put their stars at risk of injury. The reluctance has come up before and yet the NHL has participated in the Olympics since 1998. This time, however, there seems to be an impasse.

The head of the NHL Players Association, Donald Fehr, says the players want to participate and hopes the league will take advantage of the chance to market the game in Asia.

However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says without “material change to the current status quo, NHL players will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics.”

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MORE: 2018 Olympic hockey groups set