Sunday June 24, 2018
By: Radwa Hosny Translated by: Dina Al-Mahdy
Ten-year-old table tennis champion Hana Goda is taking steady steps toward international fame, winning both local and international medals. Goda aspires to win the world championship and become an Olympic gold medalist. She won gold medals at the 2016 Algerian International Championship, the 2018 Tunisian Championship, and the 2018 African Table Tennis Championship. She also won the silver medal at the 2017 Swedish Table Tennis Championship and is ranked as the top junior champion in Egypt under the age of 12.
Goda began her athletic career at the age of four. She tried gymnastics for a short while before taking up swimming and handball. These she practiced regularly for a year before she and her family settled on table tennis. Her parents enrolled her into a table tennis school at Al-Ahly Sporting Club.
At the beginning, Goda was merely trying out the sport. Recalling the early stages of her daughter’s training, Goda’s mother, Dr. Radwa Azab says, “When she started her training, she was still very young, and of course, she was short. She was even shorter than the table itself, so the table legs had to be shortened to match her height.”
Goda came to love table tennis, and after a short period of training, her talent for the sport began to materialize. Her parents helped nurture and develop her talent, putting her on the beginning of her career path.
Parents of sports champions are unsung heroes; they provide their children with support and encouragement behind the scenes, away from the spotlight. They are, first and foremost, the driving force behind the success of their children. They lead unorthodox lives full of sacrifices. Their time revolves around their children’s training schedules, sports camps, and tournaments.
Goda’s parents, Dr. Radwa Azab and Dr. Ayman Goda—the latter of whom is an assistant professor of orthopedics—both exert their utmost effort to provide their little champion with financial and moral support, so that she can continue to travel abroad to attend sports camps and meet the requirements of her private training in Egypt.
Goda’s mother accompanies her daughter on all her trips abroad and to her daily practice. “The lives of athletes’ parents follow the schedules of their children, including dates of practices and tournaments. For example, planning family vacations and social gatherings depends on Hana’s schedule, and whether or not they will clash with the dates of her tournaments and camps. Of course, everything has to be postponed until she’s free,” says Dr. Azab, who resigned from her job as a medical doctor to take care of her family.
Dr. Azab does her best to divide her time between managing the household and taking care of her three children: 13-year-old Mohamed, a swimmer at Al-Ahly Sporting Club; Hana; and five-year-old Hamsa.”Because I accompany Hana on her trips to camps or tournaments abroad, I have to arrange in advance anything my family might need while we are away,” says Dr. Azab.
Aside from tournaments and responsibilities, Goda lives her life the way any other girl her age would—or at least to a certain extent, given her training schedule, camps, and tournaments. She has practice every day after her school, then she studies her lessons. Afterward, she and her younger sister, Hamsa, play together with their dolls and toys. She is also keen to meet her friends outside school whenever she can, to make up for the time spent abroad to attend camps and international tournaments. Her favorite hobby is reading, which she enjoys in between practice sessions.
Despite her young age, Goda is a champion with big dreams. She also aspires to help other children who want to become professional athletes. Her future academic aspirations include studying the rules and techniques of table tennis to become a coach, in addition to being a professional player. She is thoroughly invested in continually developing her skills through her ongoing plans to attend more camps and tournaments, both in Egypt and abroad, to help make her dreams come true.
Commenting on the role of sports in shaping her personality, Goda’s mother said, “The athletic responsibilities that Hana bears at this young age have refined her character. Being very smart, she has mastered the art of dealing with people from different countries and cultures, due to her frequent travels and exposure to different nationalities.”
Despite the responsibilities this young champion bears, her parents are always keen to lighten her load as much as possible to ensure their daughter plays the game out of love, not duty.
Goda’s parents also try to instill a sense of good sportsmanship in their daughter, in the hopes that it becomes one of her defining character traits. Many people have had an impact on Goda’s life as far as sports are concerned. On the national level, Goda considers Dina Meshref, the top tennis table champion in Egypt and Africa, to be her role model. On the international level, her idols are Ding Ning and the Chinese coach and manager of the Egyptian National team, Zhang Shao Lin, who is one of the coaches who has had the most influence on Goda’s athletic abilities. He helped polish her skills to be on par with the athletic prowess of Chinese players.
Goda is currently attending a closed training camp in China in preparation for the China Junior Table Tennis Championship in July 2018, followed by the ITTF Hopes World Week and Challenge, which will be held in Spain in August 2018.
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