Egyptian Paralympian Ibrahim Hamadtou was 10 years old when he lost his arms in a train accident. Now, at age 48, the table tennis player is an inspiration at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Competing in his second Paralympic Games, Hamadtou balances his bat, or paddle, in his mouth and uses his right foot to throw the ball up to serve.
Hamadtou rose to fame after winning three silver medals — two in the 2011 and 2013 African Championships and one at the 2013 Egypt Open.
He finished second at the 2016 African Championships, qualifying for his first Olympic Games in Rio at the age of 43. He finished ninth in the team event and 11th in the singles event in the Class 6 table tennis Paralympic category. But, more than anything, his unique table tennis skills caught the attention of millions of people at the Rio Paralympic Games.
In a 2014 CNN interview, he said that he grew up playing table tennis and soccer in his village but was drawn to table tennis because of the challenge it posed.
“I was in the club where I was officiating a match between two of my friends,” Hamadtou said in an International Table Tennis Federation interview in 2020. “They disagreed on a point, when I counted the point in favour of one of them the other player told me, do not interfere as you will never be able to play. It was that statement that fired me up to decide to play table tennis.”
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