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.