Acer Ebru, a rising star in Turkish para table tennis, is all set to make history for both her nation and herself. Emerging as the Paris 2024 qualifier from the 2023 Virtus Global Games in the II1 Women’s category, Ebru is set to become the first athlete with an intellectual impairment from Turkey to compete in the Para Table Tennis in Class 11 competition at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

Hailing from the Mamak district of Ankara, Türkiye, Ebru has received unwavering support from her family, coach, and the Virtus Turkish member, Türkiye Özel Sporcular Spor Federasyonu -TOSSFED. As she prepares to represent her country on the global stage, Ebru’s journey embodies the spirit of determination and resilience.

Her sister is also a table tennis player like her and both practice together often.

My sister has been my partner since I was little. We have been playing table tennis since we were kids. She is also a very successful athlete like me.”

Acer Ebru with her sister and coach. Photo Credit: Acer Ebru

My mother always supported us completely and stood by us throughout this period. She trusted us, believed in us and helped us come to this day. My sister and my mother, both always support me in everything and believe in me.”

Acer’s love for table tennis began in primary school when her mother arranged lessons for her and her sister. She instantly fell in love with the sport.

Her role model is Abdullah Öztürk, a two-time Paralympic gold medalist in the C4 class and also a table tennis player from Turkey.

Acer opened up about her feelings regarding her impairment, expressing how she feels like she hasn’t succeeded in academics and “normal” life, and sometimes feels behind her friends in general.

I was not successful in my normal life. I had a hard time studying in school and my life has been difficult in different ways because of my impairment. I think the struggles of people with Intellectual impairments are difficult. People do not understand us easily. Our lives are more difficult because of this.”

I found my peace in table tennis. Thanks to table tennis, I have overcome many difficulties. I enjoy playing table tennis. I enjoy being successful. I met many people and made new friends.”

Acer has been performing exceptionally well in recent years, consistently excelling in Virtus European Regional Games, and ITTF championships, and emerging victorious in the 2023 Virtus Global Games. Her outstanding performance has earned her the title of World No. 1 in the ITTF rankings.

Acer Ebru on the podium with her ticket to Paris 2024 handed over by IPC President, Andrew Parsons. Photo Credit: T.NGUYEN

Acer received her international eligibility with Virtus in early 2018, which opened doors for her at the international para-sports competitions.

I have won 23 international medals so far and the one which is my favourite medal is the Gold medal that I won at the 2023 Virtus Global Games which made me a Virtus World Champion and qualified me for Paris 2024. I loved the mascot Lorri doll too.

Virtus and TOSSFED played a major role in my journey to Paris in 2024. TOSSFED always supported me in terms of providing training, sponsorship etc., and has been by my side. The success I received at the 2023 Virtus Global Games gave me the Golden ticket to Paris 2024 and I am going to compete in the Paralympic Games for the first time.”

I couldn’t believe it when I won the finals at GG2023 and qualified for Paris 2024. My family was very proud of me.”

“I never thought I would represent my country on a global stage like Virtus Global Games and Paralympic Games one day. I’m very excited to compete in Paris 2024. They were proud of me.”

Acer has her sights set on winning the gold at Paris 2024. She anticipates tough competition from Japan’s Kanami Furukawa and Hong Kong’s Wong Ting Ting. However, Acer remains confident in her abilities and believes she can surpass all challenges at the upcoming Paralympic Games, making her country, coach, and family proud. 

Acer wished to become an inspiration to young athletes with intellectual impairment and she wishes to see more children take up sports.

Join Virtus’ #MakingInvisibleVISIBLE campaign in making Acer’s journey Visible.

Watch the highlights of the Women’s II1 finals from GG2023.

What is Intellectual Impairment?

Intellectual impairment is an umbrella term to describe a vast and neuro-diverse group of people with varying types of cognitive impairments including intellectual disability, Down syndrome and autism. Having an intellectual impairment impacts how an athlete understands the rules of the sport, interacts with other players, and adjusts to different environments. They might find it difficult to manage reaction times, remember specific race or game strategies, retain focus for long period of time, or maintaining impulse control. 

Virtus is the brand name of the International Sports Federation for athletes with intellectual impairment and is a founding member of the International Paralympic Committee. Registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in the UK (1173901)

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