D-45. The Malagasy Table Tennis Federation is confident of repeating the exploits of the years 1990-2000. Madagascar was untouchable for five successive editions of the time, at the Mauritius Games in 1985, at home in 1990, in the Seychelles in 1993, in Reunion in 1998 and, once again, at home in 2007 before yielding the leader’s chair in Mauritius. “The objective is to win seven gold medals out of the seven at stake”, launches as a challenge the president of the federation, Jean Herley Ambinintsoari-velo. The preparation enters this week in the heart of the matter. Twelve players and ten players will proceed to the final test, from July 11 to 14, at the Mahamasina Sports Palace. The test will be done in two stages. The premiere is scheduled for July 11 and 12. All shortlisted players will compete against each other. The eight highest ranked boys and six girls will then play the second stage, on July 13 and 14. “Arbitration will be provided by qualified judges and referees who will officiate at the Games of the Islands, as a practice on the eve of the event”, underlines the boss of the federation.
The final grouping will begin on July 24. The national team and the staff will be accommodated at the Live Hotel in Andavamamba. They will train at the Assurance Aro complex in Ankadimbahoaka, a site which has just been renovated. The president of the federation also unveiled the competition site. The table tennis events will take place at the Grand Hall of the Forello area in Tanjombato. “It’s a very spacious room. The Gerfloor carpet is ready to be installed, the removable bleachers have already arrived and the projectors are being installed”, he reassures. The selection will be made up of twelve table tennis players, six boys and six girls. Two coaches have been appointed to supervise them, the national technical director, Tahiriniana Rakotoarisoa for the boys and Tiana Ratsimbazafy for the girls. Two foreign technicians, a Chinese and a Frenchman, will lend them a hand in the management. The federation has called on five expatriates from France to reinforce the premises, in this case the three Malagasy flag bearers at the African zonal championship in Djibouti and at the continental summit in Kenya. They are Fabio Rakotoarimanana, gold medalist in Djibouti, Antoine Razafinarivo, already gold medalist at the Games of the Islands in the Reunionese jersey, and Jonathan Nativel, a regular on the highest step of the Games. This will be his third participation. As for the two expatriates, they are Hanitra Karen Raharimanana, the East African champion, and Niantsa Randrianarisoa. The premises will thus have three places available for boys and four for girls.