Table tennis star Fathimath Dheema Ali, 11, won the runners-up in the 'Asian Hopes Challenge' held in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday.
The challenge was part of 'Asia Hopes Week 2019', a regional training camp for elite table tennis players, which culminated in the Hopes Challenge, determining the top six players, with three boys and three girls, qualified for the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF)'s '2019 World Hopes Week'.
Specialized for athletes born during the years 2007 and 2008, Dheema was able to reach the finals of the junior division, conceding to a competitor from neighbouring India.
During the group stages of the competition, Dheema proved victorious over athletes from Lebanon, Thailand, Kazakhstan, having lost only to the same Indian athlete. She managed a final placement after defeating Iran during the semi-finals.
Dheema was able to compete in the Asian Hopes Week following her qualification during the South Asian regional hopes week, held this January, which she acquired after winning first place in her division.
At only 10 years of age, Dheema represented Maldives In the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships, held in Halmstad, Sweden. She was the youngest athlete in the competition.
Champion of Sri Lanka’s Under 10 and Under 12 western province, Kid talent, Dheema ranked in top four in last year’s U-12 category, competing against athletes three years older than her.
She secured a gold medal finish during her first national competition for the U-12 category. For the U-16 category, she managed a second place finish.
Although Dheema’s family want her to represent Maldives, Sri Lanka has offered to grant her dual citizenship in order for Dheema to represent the Sri Lankan National team.
In an interview with local media Mihaaru, Dheema's mother conveyed her intentions to develop Dheema into the top table tennis athlete in the country.