Egyptian table tennis athlete, and amputee, captures hearts in Tokyo Paralympics

Ibrahim Hamadtou uses his mouth to make jaw-dropping moves.

August 27, 2021, 2:28 PM

In his second consecutive Paralympic Games, Egypt's table tennis player and amputee Ibrahim Hamadtou continues to produce jaw-dropping shots using only his mouth.

The 48-year-old lost to South Korea's Park Hongkyu and China's Chen Chao in the men's singles contest at the Tokyo Paralympics, but the significance of his participation goes well beyond the results.

After losing both of his arms in a train accident at the age of 10 back in 1983, Hamadtou embarked on an inspirational table tennis career after being stirred up by a negative comment from a friend.

PHOTO: Ibrahim Elhusseiny Hamadtou of Egypt in action against Chao Chen of China at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Aug. 27, 2021.
Ibrahim Elhusseiny Hamadtou of Egypt in action against Chao Chen of China at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Aug. 27, 2021.
Bernadett Szabo/Reuters

"I was in the club where I was officiating a match between two of my friends. They disagreed on a point, when I counted the point in favor of one of them the other player told me, do not interfere as you will never be able to play," Hamadtou said in an interview with the International Table Tennis Federation's website last year.

"It was that statement that fired me up to decide to play table tennis."

PHOTO: Ibrahim Elhusseiny Hamadtou grabs a ball on a floor to serve during the men's table tennis singles (Class 6) Group match against China's Chao Chen at the Paralympic Games at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Tokyo on Aug. 27, 2021.
Ibrahim Elhusseiny Hamadtou grabs a ball on a floor to serve during the men's table tennis singles (Class 6) Group match against China's Chao Chen at the Paralympic Games at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Tokyo on Aug. 27, 2021.
Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images

Astonishing images of Hamadtou holding the paddle in his mouth and striking back at opponents went viral in 2014 when he made an appearance at the World Team Championships as a guest of honor, lining up against the world's finest.

Two years later, he made his Paralympic debut at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, once again displaying his unique skills.

When serving, Hamadtou flicks the ball up with his right foot and hits it powerfully with the racket, which he holds between his teeth. It's a spectacular technique that he seems to be perfecting.

PHOTO: Egypt's Ibrahim Elhusseiny Hamadtou makes a first serve during the men's table tennis singles (Class 6) Group match against China's Chao Chen at th Paralympic Games at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Tokyo on Aug. 27, 2021.
Egypt's Ibrahim Elhusseiny Hamadtou makes a first serve during the men's table tennis singles (Class 6) Group match against China's Chao Chen at th Paralympic Games at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Tokyo on Aug. 27, 2021.
Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images

"It took me nearly a year of practice to get used to holding the racket with [my] mouth and making the serve; with practice and playing regularly this skill was improved," he added.

A father of three, Hamadtou was born in 1973 in Damietta, Egypt.

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