At the beginning of the match, David Wetherill was jittery. He had only seen his opponent on YouTube, easily beating opponents.
But then, as the match began and Wetherill watched his opponent, Ibrahim Hamadtou, play table tennis against him despite the fact that he does not have arms, Wetherill said, "you can't possibly feel nervous: he puts things in perspectiveâthe things he can do."
The things he can do, indeed.
He can play table tennis with a paddle in his mouth. And he plays the game really well.
When he was 10 years old, Ibrahim Hamadtou was involved in a horrific train accident, leaving him without arms. For three years after, Hamadtou never left the house. One family friend suggested he try soccer since he still had two good legs. BecauseÂ HamadtouÂ couldn't break his fall with his hands, every time he fell down,Â he would do a faceplant into the dirt at full speed.
So he decided to take up table tennis. He trained himself for three years to hold the paddle between his teeth and flick the ball up with his toes.
He became so good, in fact, that he was a two-time silver medalist at the African Championships. And recently, the 43-year-old Paralympian has become a YouTube sensation, gaining popularity during theseÂ 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
Hamadtou was gracious in defeat.
"I'm just happy that I could come from Egypt to be here at the Paralympics and to play against a champion," he told the AFP. "I can't express what my heart is feeling: I'm too happy."
Wetherill, a highly rated Paralympian from Great Britain, defeated Hamadtou, but left feeling inspired byÂ his opponent.
"In table tennis it is skill versus skill, and I know I won today, but I think he has demonstrated far more skill than I have just now," Wetherill said.
Even though Hamadtou is out of the Paralympics, having lost an additional match against Germany's Thomas Rau,Â heÂ left with an unforgettable experience.
âNot all defeats are defeats,â Hamadtou said. âSometimes you lose, but you actually win because you have added to your experience, you have added to your knowledge. Today I added to my knowledge.â
Watch Hamadtou in action against Rau: