The biggest para table tennis tournament for the disabled in the world ended on Saturday with the closing ceremony. City by the river Savinja hosted the 15th Slovenia Open Thermana Laško with 367 participants from 44 countries. The competition was organized by Sports Federation for the Disabled Slovenia Paralympic Committee (ZŠIS-POK) in cooperation with Slovenian Table Tennis Association.

Competitive and organizational surplus

“This is the tournament we organize for athletes, who year after year with words and actions confirm they feel good in Laško. There were no major problems with the organization, and for that we are thankful to the organizing committee, who did his job extremely well. This year we witnesed both organizational and competitive success, which was taken care of by 20-year old Luka Trtnik, who is a real pearl of global competition. If he continues at this pace and gains important points at the World Championship in fall, anything is possible,” said Damijan Lazar, the president of ZŠIS-POK.

No stress

“Another great tournament is behind us. The Greek judge was restless, when she saw how relaxed and stress-free were we before the start of the competition. At the end she congratulated us sincereley, because we carried out everything according to the schedule with almost 1600 games played. It was once again confirmed that we have an exceletn organizing team, who knows exactly what their tasks are,” said Gorazd Vecko, technical director of the tournament and coach of the British team.

Happy for Luka

“The favourites are still searching for the right form. Three younger players in our team won medals and for that I am extremely happy. I was also happy for Luka Trtnik, who for the first time in his career came among top eight. I am pleased and I hope we helped at least a little – before the tournament Luka spent seven days at the preparatory camp in England,” added Vecko, who also pointed out the quality and the progressed level of the games.

Tokio as a motive

20-year old Luka Trtnik from Domžale came among top 8 in the single events. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to overcome the Egyptian athlete. “The result surprised me and is a good incentive for the future. Good work pays of and brings results. I will continue to train with dedication,” said Luka, who doesn’t allow to be taken over by euphoria. “I’ve succeeded this time, but there are new tournaments ahead and I will have to prove myself again and again,” added Trtnik, who will be aserious candidate for Paralympics in 2020, if he continues to succeed (he progresses on the international scale, when he overcomes athletes who are higher than himself).

“I am happy. I’ve proved I can do it and that I am mentally extremely stable. I only regret the wasted opportunity in the game of doubles. We had no luck with the draw and the opponents were too strong,” said experienced Andreja Dolinar, who also came among top 8 of her class in single events. Just like young Luka Trtnik, Dolinar is also seriously considering the breakthrough to the Paralympics in Tokio.

New organizational challenge

There is no time to rest, the team continues with hard work with coach Darko Kojadinovič. The organizing team awaits a new challenge: the final part of the preparations for Para Table Tennis World Championship. The competition SPINT 2018 will be hosted by Laško and Celje between 15th and 21st October this year. “The biggest challenge will be the logistics and transport of the participants from Laško to Celje and back. But we have found a solution,” said Gorazd Vecko, technical director of the tournament. Damijan Lazar, who is also the president of the organizing committee, announced some adjustments of the Zlatorog sports hall in Celje, which is now more disabled-friendly and accessible.

Champions of single events of 15th Slovenia Open Thermana Laško:

Women:

SF 1-2: Giada Rossi (Italy)
SF3: Anna-Carin Ahlquist (Sweden)
SF 4-5: Sandra Mikolaschek (Germany)
SF 6: Maryna Ytovchenko (Ukraine)
SF 7: Kelly Van Zon (Neatherlands)
SF 8: Aida Dahlen (Norway)
SF 9: Neslihan Kavas (Turkey)
SF 10: Bruna Costa Alexandre (Brasil)
SF 11: Maria Krystyna Lysiak (Poland)

Men:

SM 1: Endre Major (Hungary)
SM 2: Rafal Czuper (Poland)
SM 3: Thomas Schmidberger (Germany)
SM 4: Abdullah Ozturk (Turkey)
SM 5: Mitar Palikuča (Serbia)
SM 6: Peter Rosenmeier (Denmark)
SM 7: Mykhaylo Popov (Ukraine)
SM 8: Ivan Mai (Ukraine)
SM 9: Iurii Nozdrunov (Russia)
SM 10: Denislav Stefanov Kodjabashev (Russia)
SM 11: Peter Palos (Hungary)

Champions of team events of 15th Slovenia Open Thermana Laško:

Women:

SF 1-3: Croatia
SF 4-5: Serbia
SF 6-7: Neatherlands/Turkey
SF 8: Russia
SF 9-10: Turkey
SF 11: Ukraine/Japan

Men:

SM 1: Italy
SM 2: Brasil
SM 3: Germany
SM 4: Turkey
SM 5: Turkey
SM 6: Romania, Germany
SM 7: Thailand
SM 8: Ukraine
SM 9: Japan
SM 10: Bolgaria/Montenegro
SM 11: Belgium/Hungary