In the Paralympics, a 48-year-old table tennis player with no arms dazzles with his abilities.

Egyptian para-table tennis champion Ibrahim Hamadtou is a true inspiration.

Ibrahim was only ten years old when he lost both arms in a tragic train accident in 1983. Despite his devastating loss, he continued to live his life to the fullest. He carried on as if he still had both arms. He played, worked, and eventually married and had three children, becoming a family man.

Ibrahim, 48, is a world-class table tennis player.

«At the time, we could only play table tennis and soccer in our village, so I played both,» he told CNN. «It made sense to play soccer first because of my situation; then I played table tennis as a challenge.»

After a friend made a snide remark about him, the Paralympian was inspired to pursue the sport.

«I was in a club officiating a match between two of my friends,» he explained. «They disagreed on a point, and when I counted the point in favor of one of them, the other player told me not to interfere because you’ll never be able to play again.» That statement sparked my interest in playing table tennis.»

And he didn’t just play; he owned the game, employing his own distinct strategies to succeed. When he was 13, the table tennis player began experimenting with different ways to hold the bat, including holding it under his armpit.

«Playing table tennis after the accident was quite difficult,» he recalled. «I had to work hard every day for three years in a row.» People were amazed and surprised to see me play at first. They were very encouraging and supportive, and they were very proud of my willingness, perseverance, and determination.»

Ibrahim has had a stellar athletic career, winning silver medals at the African Para Table Tennis Championships in 2011 and 2013.

He made his Paralympic debut at the age of 43 in Rio and is still competing against the best players in his class.

Ibrahim serves by holding the end of the paddle between his teeth and flicking the ball up high with his right foot. It took him nearly a year of practice to become accustomed to holding the racket in that manner and serving with his foot.

Ibrahim hits the delicate white sphere with his racket as it sinks in mid-air, and it shoots like a bullet toward his opponent.

«With practice and regular play, this skill improved,» he said.

Ibrahim, who is considered a legend in his own right, competes against some of the world’s best table tennis players and has competed in the last two Paralympic games. He is a Class 6 qualifier, which is open to athletes who can stand but have arm and leg impairments.

Although he didn’t win against South Korea’s Park Hongkyu and China’s Chen Chao in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, his sheer perseverance and talent have gained international recognition.

“My goal in Tokyo 2021 is to be in good form; play better than in Rio to achieve a medal in this tournament. My message to the Egyptian and African players is: nothing is impossible,” he said.

Ibrahim is showing other people with limb differences that there is a place for them in the sports scene. We applaud him for overcoming the odds and his dedication to being the best at what he does!

Watch Ibrahim in action in the video below.

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