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Saturday, October 30, 1999
Ottawa's Sharara named Table Tennis chief

By GEORGE GROSS -- Calgary Sun

Canadians are en route to a global takeover of amateur sports.

Perhaps not in the pool, on the track or on the ski slopes, but certainly in the boardrooms of International Sports Federations.

At the recent meetings of GAISF -- General Association of International Sports Federations -- in Osaka, Japan, the assembled heads of sports federations welcomed Adham Sharara of Ottawa as the new president of the International Table Tennis Federation. He was elected prexy of the world ping-pong body at the 1999 world championships in Eindhoven, Holland, in August.

Adham Sharara is the fourth Canadian head of an international sports federation, placing Canada only behind Italy as far as as the number of international sports bosses is concerned. The Italians lead the parade with six international federation presidents.

Veteran Canadians occupying the lofty positions ahead of Sharara are Toronto's Paul Henderson, who's the president of the International Yacht Racing Union. In fact, at Osaka, he could have had enough votes to be elected vice-president of GAISF, but it wasn't an election year.

Another Canadian, perhaps not as well known as Henderson, is Vancouver's Les McDonald, who's head of the International Triathlon Union, a group that has done a lot to promote the sport around the globe.

The third veteran president is Bob Storey of Ottawa, president of the International Bobsleigh and Toboggan Federation, who's well respected on the international amateur scene.

Which brings us to Sharara, who succeeds Japan's most popular Ichiro Ogimura, a former world champion and successful Tokyo businessman, as head of ITTF.

"Adham Sharara is a pretty interesting fellow," said Violet Le Blanc, marketing secretary of the International Table Tennis Federation." Unfortunately, this week he is out of the country and cannot be reached."

With a backup such as Ms. Le Blanc, one can find out quite a bit about the mysterious Mr. Sharara. He was born in Cairo, Egypt, 47 years ago and emigrated to Canada as a youngster to become an electrical engineer.

Table tennis was his first love. He started playing at age 10 in 1963 and is still chasing celluloid balls across a table tennis table.

In 1972 he became a member of Canada's national team and represented his adopted country for four years before embarking on an executive career as provincial technical director in Quebec, national technical director, national coach and director general of the Canadian Table Tennis Association. He received lots of encouragement from Toronto's Marg Walden, the grand lady of Canadian table tennis

Adham married Mariann Domonkos, a 10-time Canadian women's singles champion, in 1982 and the two of them have devoted their careers to the popularization of the sport in Canada.

Sharara has set himself goals for the next three years. He tells everyone that in the past the ITTF has usually operated on necessity and tradition. However, in order to compete with other sports at the international level and to attract top sponsors, Sharara envisions that the time has arrived to put in place long range plans.

"The ITTF will adopt a general set of priorities to guide its activities over the Olympic quadrennial," said Sharara. "In general, any ITTF program, plan or activity must satisfy at least two (efficiency and effectiveness) established general priorities with 'planning' as an essential pre-requisite."

The key goals, though, are to increase the popularity of the game in Canada and the participation of young people in the sport. If Richard Nixon succeeded with ping pong diplomacy in China, there's no reason why Sharara cannot succeed with his plan in Canada.
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