Great plans for the Laško tournament

The 16th Slovenia Open Thremana Laško officially concluded with the medal ceremony on Saturday night, after 427 players had chased Tokyo 2020 qualification points and competed at the biggest para table tennis tournament in the world in the previous four days. The international Table Tennis Federation’s statistics the event is now also officially the biggest of its kind for para athletes in history!

Everyone gathered was first greeted by Damijan Lazar, President of the NPC Slovenia, while the guestlist included His Excellence Mr. Masaharu Yoshida, ambassador to Slovenia from Japan, Mr. Pablo Perez (ITTF PTT President), Tomas Varga (the tournament’s technical delegate), Gorazd Vecko and representatives of Lidl Slovenia, Toyota Adria, the Triglav insurer and Slovenian lottery as well as Thermana Laško and Mateja Pintar Pustovrh, Athens 2004 gold medallist for Slovenia.

China in the lead

The team event ended at 3 p.m. on Saturday with China winning eight gold medals. In the woman’s categories the titles went to a joint team of Russia and China (class 1-2), South Korea (3), China (4, 8, 9 and10), a joint team of Sweden and Israel (5), Ukraine and Romania (6-7) and Russia (11). The teams of South Korea (1, 4), France (2, 10), China (3, 6, 8), Germany (5), Spain (7), japan (9) and Belgium/Hungary (11) took the golds in the men’s classes.

Goal: 1,000 players

“The tournament ran smoothly. There was basically no additional work in these last five days, just a few minor issues to solve. We had had a lot of discussions with ITTF ahead of the event, as they initially limited the number of players we would be allowed to host, but in the end they allowed the number we now accepted. Nobody believed that we are able to execute such a successful tournament with these participation numbers. But we did it,” NPC Slovenia President and president of the organizing committee Damijan Lazar was thrilled at the end of the competition – which could even grow in the future!

“The Tri Lilije venue doesn’t allow for 25 or 30 playing table to be set up. But a new tennis venue is planned to be built here in the near future, which would allow us to set up enough competition tables to have up to 1,000 players,” Lazar predicts and confirms that a new international competition is to be hosted in Laško, Slovenia, as NPC Slovenia has bid for the organization of the para shooting European championship. Should they win, between 200 and 300 para shooters will be coming to Slovenia in the summer of 2020.

Top Slovenian placements for Trtnik, Lukežič and Dolinar

“The Slovenian national team members have reached results that they have already seen before. Unfortunately, there was no progress. We had a talk after the competition. And we are now left with no chances to qualify for the 2020Paralympic Games in Tokyo,” NPC Slovenia President and former head-coach of the Slovenian national team saw the performances of the five Slovenian players, out of whom the best placements were reached by Luka Trtnik in teams (best of 16) and Andreja Dolinar and Bojan Lukežič in singles (also best of 16). Primož Kancler also made it to the knock-out stage, while Barbara Meglič lost all her group-stage duels already.

Integration a way to progress

“The tournament was extremely high-level in terms of the quality of the players. Am I surprised? No. everyone works hard, the athletes especially! The results of integration are starting to show. Numerous countries do not have two separate associations for one sport anymore, but rather combine the non-disabled and para divisions under one roof. The levels of trainings and personnel are rising. Which is where great progress comes from. China is one of the countries that did no do this, they have been doing the same thins with the same system for 15 years now, and their results are falling. Both Americas and Oceania have made a big step forward. This is great for table tennis that had been dominated by Europe and Asia before. The tournament in Laško is as strong as the Paralympics.90 percent of the players who competed in Laško, will play in Tokyo next year,” manager of the Great Britain team and Laško tournament director Gorazd Vecko said on the quality of the competition at this event and reminded, that even the best players who are already qualified for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan, used the Laško tournament to see what they still need to fix by next year.

This was the third time in the last two years for Slovenia to host such a major event: the 2017 European Para Table Tennis Championship was held in Laško, while Celje hoste last year’s World Championship SPINT 2018 and the trio is round-up for NPC Slovenia by this tournament that gave out the most points for the possible qualification to Tokyo 2020.

Notable names add to earlier success, Liu Jing and Gu Xiaodan maintain form

Success for China’s Liu Jing and Gu Xiaodan two days earlier in the individual events at the Para Thermana Lasko Slovenia Open 2019; two days later on Saturday 11th May there was further success.

TABIB Caroline Odaia (ISR) and AHLQUIST Anna-carin (SWE) during Team events at Day 4 of 16th Slovenia Open – Thermana Lasko 2019 Table Tennis for the Disabled, on May 11, 2019, in Dvorana Tri Lilije, Lasko, Slovenia. Photo by Vid Ponikvar / Sportida

Competing in the women’s wheelchair events, Liu Jing partnered Russia’s Nadejda Pushpasheva to team success, a feat also achieved by Gu Xiaodan in partnership with colleague, Zhou Ying.

Gold medallist in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro, the three most recent Paralympic Games, on the second day of action Liu Jing had won the class 2 title; partnering Nadejda Pushpasheva, on the concluding day of play, the class 1-2 team title was secured.

The top seeds, in a group organised event, they finished ahead of the no.3 seeds, the Brazilian combination formed by Catia da Silva Oliveira and Maia Limp de Azevedo; Florence Gossiaux-Sireau of France in partnership with Argentina’s Maria Garronne ended the day in third position.

Similarly, Gu Xiaodan added to her success in the individual events; competing in the same category and partnering Zhou Ying, the duo secured the class 4 team title. The top seeds, at the final hurdle they recorded a 2-1 win in opposition to the no.2 seeds, the Serbian combination of Borislava Peric-Rankovic and Nada Matic.

Gold for China but it was not the situation in class 3 nor in class 5; events in which they held the top seeded positions. In class 3 the trio comprising Xue Juan, Li Qian and Yang Zhonghui experienced a 2-0 defeat in the final against Korea Republic’s Yoon Jiyu and Lee Migyu.

Meanwhile, in class 5, the outfit formed by Zhang Bian, Zhang Miao and Pan Jiamin had to settle for second place in a group administered event. In the vital concluding match of the itinerary, they suffered 2-1 reverse at the hands of the combination formed by Sweden’s Anna-Carin Ahlqhuist and Israel’s Caroline Tabib.

Matters concluded in Lasko, attention now turns to Wladyslawowo; the three day Para Polish Open 2019 commences on Thursday 30th May.

Thermana Lasko Slovenia Para Open 2019: Latest results and main draws

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Korea Republic pairs upset seeding, familiar name excels

Play in the wheelchair classes in the men’s team events concluded on Saturday 11th May at the Para Thermana Lasko Slovenia Open 2019, the Korea Republic emerged the most successful nation, China’s Feng Panfeng, the reigning Paralympic Games and World champion, the most successful player.

PARK Sung Joo and NAM KiWon (KOR) during Team events at Day 4 of 16th Slovenia Open – Thermana Lasko 2019 Table Tennis for the Disabled, on May 11, 2019, in Dvorana Tri Lilije, Lasko, Slovenia. Photo by Vid Ponikvar / Sportida

However, the winning outfits were not necessarily a might have been anticipated.

Korea Republic dominated class 1, they provided both finalists but it was the unseeded second team duo of Nam Kiwon and Park Sungjoo who emerged the winners; at the final hurdle they recorded a 2-0 win in opposition their colleagues, the top seeded partnership formed by Joo Youngdae and Kim Hyeonuk.

Similarly, in class 4, compatriots Kim Younggun and Kim Junggil, although major contenders for honours, did not start as favourites; they were the no.2 seeds. In the final they upset the odds; a 2-1 win was the margin of victory in opposition to the top seeded Turkish combination of Abdullah Ozturk, Nesim Turan and Suleyman Vural.

Success for the Korea Republic, there was also success for China; notably more gold for the irrepressible Feng Panfeng. The winner two days earlier of the class 3 singles title, in the same category he joined forces with Zhai Xiang and Guo Fei to secure team gold. The top seeds, at the final hurdle they accounted for the no.3 seeds, the combination formed by Ireland’s Colin Judge and Jenson Van Emburgh from the United States.

More gold for Feng Panfeng and for the player he had beaten in the singles final, there was a degree of consolation; Thomas Schmidberger partnered German colleague Valentin Baus to success in class 5. The top seeds, in the final the duo combined to record a 2-0 win against the no.2 seeds, Norway’s Tommy Urhaug and Great Britain’s Jack Hunter-Spivey.

Delight for Thomas Schmidberger and Valentin Baus but the happiest man was seemingly Jack Hunter-Spivey. A 2-0 win had been posted at the semi-final stage in opposition to the no.4 seeds, the Chinese trio led by Cao Ningning, the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games gold medallist; in Lasko supported by Zhan Dashun and Shi Yanping. It was for the British player very special on a special day.

“It’s always a pleasure playing with Tommy and it’s great to get to the final of such a strong competition. I feel that I’ve played very well this week; I’ve been training hard and I’m starting to see the rewards. Beating Baus in the singles event is a great win for me as he is a great player and now I’m showing that I’m on the same level as the top players in the world. Overall I’m really happy with my performance and a big win over China in the team event on my birthday makes it even more special.” Jack Hunter-Spivey

A delighted Jack Hunter-Spivey, it was also a delighted Fabien Lamirault and Stéphane Molliens; the top seeds, the French pair secured the class 2 title; they overcame the no.3 seeds, Slovakia’s Jan Riapos and Martin Ludrovsky 2-0 in the final.

Proceedings over in Lasko, attention now turns to Wladyslawowo; the three day Para Polish Open 2019 commences on Thursday 30th May.

Thermana Lasko Slovenia Para Open 2019: Latest results and main draws

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Titles for China but Ukraine and Russia provide stand out names

Impressive performances, China emerged the most successful nation on duty in the standing categories in the women’s team events at the Para Thermana Lasko Slovenia Open 2019 on Saturday 11th May.

However, the names to stand out were those of Ukraine’s Maryna Lytovchenko and Russia’s Elena Prokofeeva, both added more gold to their collection.

Winner of the class 6 title earlier in the week Maryna Lytovchenko joined forces with Romania’s Gabriela Constantin to secure the top prize in the class 6-7 team event; furthermore, the success was very much contrary to expectations.

The no.3 seeds, in a group administered event, they finished ahead of the top seeded Russian duo comprising Raisa Chebanika and Maliak Alieva; the no.2 seeds, the pairing formed by Turkey’s Kubra Korkut and Germany’s Bente Harenberg concluding matters in third position. A quite outstanding effort and even more outstanding when taken into consideration the fact that they did not surrender a single individual match; the score-line 2-0 was recorded on each occasion.

Meanwhile, in class 11, the category for players with a learning difficulty, Elena Prokofeeva added to her earlier success by partnering colleague Anzhelika Kosacheva to gold. The top seeds, at the final hurdle they recorded a 2-0 win in opposition to Japan’s Kanami Furukawa and Sayuri Mio.

Otherwise, in the women’s team standing events, it was success for China. Imposingly Mao Jingdian, Huang Wenjuan and Li Guiying combined to secure the class 8 title and repeated earlier success. In the group stage they had recorded a 2-0 win again the German pairing of Juliane Wolf and Stephanie Grebe, in the final they did exactly the same.

Gold for China as status predicted, it was the same in class 9 but not in class 10. In a group organised class 9 competition, Xiong Guiyan and Liu Meng finished ahead of Poland’s Karolina Pek and Malgorzata Jankowska; rather differently in class 10, not listed amongst the top outfits, Fan Lei, Zhao Xiajing and Hou Chunxiao emerged victorious. At the final hurdle they claimed a 2-1 win in opposition to the Turkish trio of Neslihan Kavas, Merve Demir and Ümran Ertis.

Play concluded in Lasko, attention now turns to Wladyslawowo; the three day Para Polish Open 2019 commences on Thursday 30th May.

Thermana Lasko Slovenia Para Open 2019: Latest results and main draws

by Ian Marshall, Editor

TECH NEWS

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OLDER NEWS

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