The Maldives women’s table tennis team on Sunday beat host nation Mauritius to win the team event at the 2019 Indian Ocean Island Games.
It was the first gold medal won by the country in a team event at a multi-sport international tournament. In the previous nine editions of IOIG, the Maldives only brought home one gold medal, which was won in 2015 by Hassan Saaid in the men’s 100-meter sprint, an individual event.
The young female athletes who made history included 11-year-old Fathmath Dheema Ali and 15-year-old Aishath Rafa Nazim along with the more experienced players Mueena Mohamed and Fathmath Jumana Nimal.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and First Lady Fazna Ahmed were among the Maldives contingent who rushed to celebrate with the winners upon Rafa’s victory in the final match. Videos of the jubilant group hug have been widely shared on social media amid sentiments of national pride and congratulations to the girls.
The first couple travelled to Mauritius last week on an official visit and attended the IOIG opening ceremony at Port Louis. The pair also attended multiple events involving Maldivian teams.
The Maldives is competing in 14 sporting events in this year’s games with the aim of bagging 15 medals.
On Saturday, the Maldives formally presented its bid to host the next edition of IOIG in 2023.
Last week, Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and Sports Minister Ahmed Mahloof visited Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros and Madagascar to lobby support for the bid.
The IOIG is held once every four years with athletes from seven Indian Ocean island nations. It was established by the International Olympic Committee in 1977.
Along with the Maldives, Madagascar and Comoros are also interested in hosting the IOIG in 2023.
Photos from the president’s office