Fathimath Dheema Ali has successfully defended her gold medal in the women’s table tennis singles event at the ongoing Indian Ocean Island Games in Madagascar. This remarkable victory marks her second consecutive gold medal in the same event, having previously claimed the top spot at the 2019 edition of the Indian Ocean Island Games in Mauritius.

Dheema faced her compatriot Aishath Rafa Nazim on Friday in a heart-pounding final reminiscent of the 2019 Indian Ocean Island Games. She overcame Rafa with a score of 4-2 after a six-set thriller.

Aishath Rafa Nazim won the silver medal in the women’s table tennis singles event at the IOIG 2023 (Photo: Facebook/Maldives Olympic Committee)

Dheema won the final 4-2. Rafa won the first set 11-2. Dheema, however, fought back in the second set, narrowly clinching it with a score of 14-12. The closely contested battle continued in the third and fourth sets, with Dheema winning 11-9 and 7-11 respectively.

As the tension mounted, Rafa made a comeback in the fifth set, securing a score of 11-8. With the match hanging in the balance at 3-2 to Dheema, the crowd was treated to an extra set to determine the ultimate victor. Dheema showed her mettle once more, claiming the sixth set with an 11-8 score, thus sealing her gold medal victory. Rafa took home the silver medal, ensuring both gold and silver for the Maldives in the women’s singles table tennis at the games.

In addition to Dheema’s achievement, Maldives’ Mohamed Shaffan made it to the men’s singles finals. Unfortunately, Shaffan succumbed to a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Nativel Jonathan and ultimately settled for the silver medal. He is also the first Maldivian player to reach the men’s singles final in an international tournament.