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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

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Tahiti chosen for Olympic surfing competition at 2024 Paris Games

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Paris 2024 Olympic organizers want the surfing competition to be held in Tahiti, an island in French Polynesia that is about 9,800 miles from Paris.

It would break the record for the farthest Olympic medal competition to be held outside the host. In 1956, equestrian events were moved out of Melbourne due to quarantine laws and held five months earlier in Stockholm, some 9,700 miles away.

The Paris 2024 executive board approved the site Thursday — specifically, the village of Teahupo’o — and will propose it to the IOC. It beat out other applicants Biarritz, Lacanau, Les Landes and La Torche, all part of mainland France.

Surfing will debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games but is not on the permanent Olympic program. Surfing was among sports added to the Paris 2024 program in June and could be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

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Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

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Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

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