Top seed Olympian and African Champion Georges Julien Paul had a disastrous day on the second day of the All Africa Individual Championships 2021. Playing against the African Youth Olympics 2018 bronze medallist Mohamed Mostafa Kamel, Julien Paul started uncharacteristically, making lots of mistakes enabling Mostafa to take control of the match in the early stages of the game.
“I was not very focused at the start, and I got nervous. but at the end of the first set, I was relaxed and was playing better.” Said Julien Paul
He later turned the tables on Mostafa, and as he was overtaking him in the dying stages of the first game, he had a nasty fall from a jump smash move tearing his Achilles tendon at 18-17, forcing him to retire and concede the match. Julien Paul was undoubtably one of the favorites to reach the medal bracket in Men’s Doubles alongside his long-term partner Aatish Lubah. We wish Julien and all the other injured players in this tournament a speedy recovery.
Julien Paul’s injury did not dampen the spirits of the tournament as the young Robert White from South Africa, fresh from the All Africa under 19 championships, caused a major upset beating the experienced Abderrahime Belarbi from Algeria 2-1. Known for his hard-hitting skills, Belarbi took the first game 23-21 but he was no match for Robert’s suave moves denying him a chance to smash in the second and final game losing 21-18, 21-15.
“It was a tough match with a good experienced player. This is my first time to play in the senior event, and it was challenging, but I am happy I was able to win,” said Robert.
Robert won silver in the Men’s Singles, Gold in the Men’s doubles, and Gold in the team event of the All Africa under 19 Championships in Benin, proving that the BCA competition structure is working. Robert later lost to Mostafa Kamel 2-0 for a place in the Semi-finals.
Kalombo Mulenga was also not to be left behind in the David Goliath story. The young Zambian talented player dubbed as the “King of comebacks” dispatched the experienced Youcef Sabri Medel from Algeria fresh from the TotalEnergies Thomas & Uber Cup in his classic, 2 games to 1 style.
“Playing in the All Africa Championships is not an easy thing. The competition is very tough and requires a lot of focus and concentration. It was very tough playing from the first game to the final game, playing the number 3 seed of the tournament.” He said.
Kalombo has had all his games apart from one extend to 3 games. Medel got distracted in the game, deciding to concentrate on arguing with the umpire to a point where he was rewarded with a yellow card for his troubles.
“It was a good feeling for me because I have prepared myself well for such a tournament, and I am now reaping the fruits of my hard work. I hope to keep the same momentum throughout the tournament.” He added.
Kalombo later beat Abdelrahman Abdelhakim from Egypt 2-0 to qualify for the semifinals.
In the women’s singles, top seed Doha Hany struggled to overcome a resolute Husina Kobugabe and needed 3 games to overcome the Ugandan.
” It was my first women singles match in this tournament and it was tough in the beginning. I committed so many mistakes, although I won, I am disappointed with my performance,” She said.
” I went on court with nothing to lose so I decided to see how well I can play against a very good player in Africa. I enjoyed my moment on court.” said the proud Husina Kobugabe.
Doha also struggled in the quarterfinals against Uganda’s Gladys Mbabazi, who took the second game to the wire. Serving at 21, Gladys had an opportunity to cancel Doha’s match point opportunity, but she ended up making a meal out of a simple quarter court lift from Doha missing the shuttle.
The 20th edition of the All Africa Senior Championships 2021 will conclude on 28 October with the semi-finals and finals of the individuals event. The matches will be live streamed on the BCA YouTube page