Ever present for quarter of a century, Jochen Wollmert falls one step short

Ever present for quarter of a century, Jochen Wollmert falls one step short

Both on duty at the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games, both on that occasion gold medallists; on Saturday 5th June at the Paralympic World Qualification Tournament in Lasko, it was mixed fortunes for Gilles de la Bourdonnaye of France and Germany’s Jochen Wollmert.

Gilles de la Bourdonnaye, who had won men’s singles class 10 gold, now over a quarter of a century ago, booked his Tokyo place. Competing in the same category, the 48-year-old, the no.2 seed, at the final hurdle beat Poland’s Igor Misztal, the top seed (11-6, 11-4, 4-11, 9-11, 11-8).

Conversely, in class 7, Jochen Wollmert, gold medallist in men’s team class 6-8 in Atlanta and the no.2 seed in Lasko, also faced Polish opposition in his title decider, but was beaten by Maksym Chudzicki, the no.3 seed (12-10, 12-10, 11-7).

Quite incredibly Jochen Wollmert, now 56 years old, has competed in every Paralympic Games since 1992, three times being the men’s singles class 7 gold medallist.

Success for prominent names but only three players who started proceedings in the top seeded positions emerged successful.

In class 5, Great Britain’s Jack Hunter-Spivey, who experienced defeat in his opening match in the tournament two days earlier when losing to Russia’s Grigorii Isakov (11-13, 11-6, 11-9, 11-3), was very much back in form. He overcame Germany’s Jörg Didion (11-5, 11-3, 14-12) to secure his Tokyo ticket.

Convincing, it was the same for Ukraine’s Ivan Main in class 9, as it was from Japan’s Koya Kato in class 11; both justified their top seeded position. At the final hurdle, Ivan Mai beat Russia’s Iurii Nozdrunov (11-5, 6-11, 11-7, 13-11); Koya Kato ousted Korea Republic’s Kim Changgi, the no.2 seed (11-6, 11-8, 10-12, 10-12, 11-8).

Tokyo places for three top names, it was the same for three second seeds.

Russia’s Dmitry Lavrov beat Finland’s Timo Natunen to claim the class 1 title; Vladimir Toporkov succeeded in class 3, overcoming Poland’s Maciej Nalepka, the top seed, in the final (6-11, 14-12, 11-7, 11-6). Likewise, Italy’s Matteo Parenzam prevailed in class 6, overcoming Japan’s Kazuki Shichino in the vital contest (11-9, 12-10, 11-8), the surprise penultimate round winner in opposition to Spain’s Alberto Seoane, the no.3 seed (7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-6).

Somewhat similarly, Slovakia’s Boris Travnicek, the no.3 seed, secured the class 4 title. Hard fought contests, he beat Spain’s Francisco Lopez, the top seed (11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10) in the semi-finals, before securing gold by overcoming Frenchman, Alexandre Delarque, the no.2 seed (12-10, 8-11, 11-13, 11-9, 11-9).

Tokyo places for leading names but there were two major surprises; not listed amongst the top seeded players, Thailand’s Thirayu Chueawong emerged the winner in class 2, Frenchman Clément Berthier in class 8.

In the deciding contest Thirayu Chueawong overcame Italy’s Federico Cossara (11-8, 7-11, 18-16, 7-11, 11-4), having one round earlier upset the order by ousting Korea Republic’s Kang Changyoung, the top seed (4-11, 11-8, 11-9, 15-13).

Hard earned success, it was very much the same for Clément Berthier; in the final, he needed four games to end the hopes of Sweden’s Linus Karlsson, the no.2 seed (10-12, 11-4, 11-9, 11-6).

by Ian Marshall, www.ittf.com

The last 21 participants for Tokyo are now known

The last 21 participants for Tokyo are now known

The table tennis qualification tournament for the Summer Paralympic Games ended on Saturday in Laško. The last 21 participants for Tokyo are now known. The Slovenian athletes failed to qualify for the Games.

The qualification tournament, held between 3rd and 5th of June, was the first such tournament to be held before the Paralympic Games. It was the last opportunity for athletes in this event to secure themselves a place for the Paralympics.

21 more places were available for grabs in Laško in as many different categories, and the following winners secured them:

in the woman’s categories: Aino Sirri Maaria Tapola (from Finland), Nergiz Altinas (Turkey), Susan Gilroy (United Kingdom), Panwas Sringam (Thailand), Sung Keum Moon (South Korea), Nora Korneliussen (Norway), Zsofia Arloy (Hungary), Jennifer Marques Parinos (Brazil), Merve Demir (Turkey) and Lea Ferney (France);

in the men’s categories: Dimitry Lavrov and Vladimir Toporkov (Russia), Thirayu Chueawong (Taiwan), Bojan Travniček (Slovakia), Jack Hunter Spivey (United Kingdom), Matteo Parenzan (Italy), Maksim Hubert Chudzicki (Poland), Gilles De La Bourdonnaye and Clement Berthier (France), Ivan Maj (Ukraine) and Koya Kato (Japan).

In total, 210 players from 47 countries participated in the event at the Tri Lilije venue.

Slovenia had four representatives at the home event, which finished their performances after the second day. Primož Kancler made it the furthest and was the only player to qualify for the knock-out stage. Andreja Dolinar, Luka Trtnik and Alen Bečirević only made it to the groups preliminaries.

“Kancler’s performance is a great success. Both sets were very even. If at least one of them had gone a bit differently, the outcome might have changed. In Trtnik’s case, a point or two was missing at key moments. Primož turned in an excellent performance, as did Andreja Dolinar. Alen Bečirević came to Laško to gain valuable experience and he gained it,” said selector Ožbej Poročnik about the performance of the whole Slovenian team.

“The organizing committee did its best to ensure good and healthy conditions. There have been no infections so far. We are happy and proud that Slovenia has succeeded again with this event. The most difficult part was to obtain permits for countries that are very remote or critical. For some athletes it was very difficult to get permission to leave their country,” said Damijan Lazar, President of the NPC Slovenia, about the challenges of the tournament during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This was the first such tournament in history and we were the only ones who could make it happen.  The International Federation asked us to do it; we examined the current measures together and assessed how the event could be carried out. I am pleased to say that everything went smoothly. Unfortunately, the Slovenian athletes did not manage to qualify like they wished to, but the fact is that there is only one ticket for each category. There will be more opportunities, but we have lots to work on until the next match,” added Lazar.

Petra Sörling, Vice President of the International Table Tennis Federation, praised the organizers: “We are very happy to be here. Given the circumstances, we knew that the only option was to look for experienced organisers – we had to go to Laško. There were a lot of issues because of the pandemic, but they did everything perfectly.”

Slovenia may still have a representative in Tokyo, as the Sports Federation for the Disabled of Slovenia hopes to get a special invitation from the organizers of the Paralympic Games for one of the competitors.

Richard Csejtey turns back the years

Richard Csejtey turns back the years

Crowned world champion in 2006 in Montreux, listed in top spot on the world rankings in 2009 – fast forward 12 years to Friday 4th June 2021 the Czech Republic’s Richard Csejtey, now 41 years old, rolled back the years at the Paralympic World Qualification Tournament in the Slovenian city of Lasko,

On a day when in each category semi-finalists were decided, in class 8 he caused a major upset; the no.5 seed, Csejtey reserved his penultimate place by ousting Thailand’s Phisit Wangphonphathanasiri, the top seed (12-10, 10-12, 12-10, 2-11, 11-6).

Defeat for the 34-year-old, who in 2020 struck gold at the Egypt Para Open, means he is one of four top seeded players not to reach the men’s semi-final round.

Argentina’s Fernando Eberhardt (class 1) and Chile’s Cristian Dettoni (class 6), both disappeared from view on the opening day. On the second day of play, in class 7, Slovakia’s Miroslav Jambor, after finishing in second place in his group behind Russia’s Alexei Samsonov, experienced an opening round defeat at the hands of Sweden’s Jonas Hansson (11-6, 11-4, 11-7).

Alas for the Swede, the progress was short-lived; in the next round he was beaten by Germany’s vastly experienced Jochen Wollmert (9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-6).

Otherwise, the leading names progressed, in class 2, Kang Changyoung reserved his semi-final place but only just; first in his group but decided by games ratio, Kang finished ahead of Spain’s Miguel Angel Toledo and the Czech Republic’s Martin Zvolanek.

Rather more comfortably in class 3, Poland’s Maciej Nalepka secured his last four place, as in class 4 did Spain’s Francisco Lopez, however, there were nervous moments for Great Britain’s Jack Hunter-Spivey in class 5. Similar to Kang Changyoung it was a close call with games ratio proving crucial in seeing the Brit finish ahead of Russia’s Grigorii Isakov and Argentina’s Elias Romero.

Impressively, in class 9, Ukraine’s Ivan Mai duly reserved his semi-final place, as did the next in line, Russia’s Iurii Nozdrunov and Great Britain’s Ashley Facey Thompson. Meanwhile, in class 10, Poland’s Igor Misztal and Frenchman Gilles de la Bourdonnaye, the respective top two seeds, advanced to the last four, a situation that applied also to Japan’s Koya Kato and Korea Republic’s Kim Changi, their counterparts, in class 11.

Proceedings in Lasko conclude on Saturday 5th June, only the winner of each class gain Tokyo places.

by Ian Marshall, www.ittf.com

Race hots up as first Tokyo ticket secured in Laško

Race hots up as first Tokyo ticket secured in Laško

Silver medallist in 2019 in Amman, Bangkok and Ostrava; Thailand’s Panwas Sringam emerged the first player to reserve a place at Tokyo 2020 in Lasko, Slovenia, following success at the Paralympic World Qualification Tournament on Friday 4th June.

Competing in women’s class 5, a group organised event, Sringam, aged 19 and the fourth highest rated player on duty, accounted for Japan’s Kimmie Bessho (12-10, 11-5, 12-10) and Serbia’s Biljana Ubovic (11-3, 11-5, 12-10) to complete her series of matches unbeaten.

An unbeaten record for Panwas Sringam against the odds, it was the same for Finland’s Aino Tapola. The lowest listed in class 1-2, likewise in a group organised competition, she accounted for Israel’s Chagit Brill (11-1, 11-7, 11-4) to maintain her winning ways. One match remaining she needs to win just two games against Germany’s Janina Sommer to secure an unlikely ticket to Tokyo!

Almost there, in class 8 it is a likewise situation; also group-administered, Hungary’s Zsofia Arloy ended the day the only unbeaten player. One more match to play, the top seed faces Russia’s Elena Litvinenko – win just one game and top spot is assured.

Progress as status anticipated, not in women’s class 6 as Poland’s Katarzyna Marszal, the top seed, had to settle for fourth place in her group and thus elimination. Conversely, in the counterpart group it was top spot without alarm for Great Britain’s Fliss Pickard, the no.2 seed.

Likewise in class 10, Chinese Taipei’s Lin Tzu-Yu, the no.2 seed, finished in third place behind Japan’s Nozomi Takeuchi and Germany’s Marlene Reeg. They join Turkey’s Merve Demir, the top seed, and Romania’s Ioana Monica Tepelea in the main draw.

Problems for leading names, but not in class 3. Turkey’s Nergiz Altintas, the no.2 seed, duly topped her group and joins Croatian top seed Helena Dretar in the semi-finals, the latter player having qualified the previous day. Likewise, in class 4, prominent names progressed to the penultimate round including: Jordan’s Faten Elelimat, Chinese Taipei’s Lu Pi-Chun, Great Britain’s Sue Gilroy, and Turkey’s Irem Oluk.

Meanwhile, in class 7, Norway’s Nora Korneliussen, Hungary’s Dora Molnar and Germany’s Tiziana Oliv joined Argentina’s Giselle Muñoz, the top seed, in the semi-finals, with Muñoz having qualified the previously. Somewhat similarly, in class 9, Ukraine’s Iryna Shynkarova and Brazil’s Jennyfer Marques progressed to the main draw alongside Korea Republic’s Kim Kunhea and Russia’s Olga Komleva-Gorshkaleva, the respective top two seeds.

Assured of semi-final places the previous day, in class 11 Turkey’s Ebru Acer finished ahead of Lea Ferney of France; in the counterpart group it was first place for Russia’s Maria Galkina, and a runners up spot for the Czech Republic’s Denisa Macurova.

Matters conclude in Lasko on Saturday 5th June, only the winners of the respective classes gain Tokyo places.

by Ian Marshall, www.ittf.com

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