Fathimath Dheema Ali wrote her name into the history books on Wednesday by becoming the first Maldivian athlete to qualify for the Olympic Games. The 16-year-old table tennis prodigy will represent the Maldives at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, a monumental achievement celebrated by the Maldives Olympic Committee (MOC).

Dheema’s journey to the Olympics has been marked by significant accomplishments. She first garnered international attention by qualifying for the World Junior Championship, a pioneering feat for any Maldivian athlete. Ranked eighth in the global Under-15 girls singles category by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), Dheema has consistently demonstrated her prowess on the table tennis circuit.

Her illustrious career includes multiple gold medals at the Indian Ocean Island Games. In 2019, she dominated the women’s team, doubles, and singles events, and continued her winning streak by securing back-to-back gold medals for the Maldivian women’s team at the 2023 Indian Ocean Island Games in Madagascar.

This milestone marks a significant step forward for Maldivian sports. Traditionally, the Maldives has participated in the Summer Olympic Games in athletics and swimming under the IOC’s Universality Places. Previously, badminton players Mohamed Ajfan Rasheed and Nabaha Abdul Razzaq competed in the Olympics under a Tripartite Commission invitation. The Tripartite Commission allocates special invitational quota places to promote universality and inclusivity, allowing high-ranked athletes who did not qualify through standard processes to compete.

The MOC praised Dheema’s dedicated support team, with special recognition for her coach, Zvonimir Korenić, and her parents. Their guidance and expertise have been crucial in shaping Dheema’s development and success.

“Dheema’s qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympics is a momentous occasion for Maldivian sports,” stated the President of the Maldives Olympic Committee. “Her hard work, determination, and the unwavering support from her coach and team have brought this dream to fruition. We are confident that Dheema will make our nation proud on the global stage.”

The Maldives Olympic Committee is yet to announce the full contingent that would represent Maldives at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.