The doubles finals wrapped up the 19th I Feel Slovenia Thermana Open, the biggest para table tennis tournament in the world. The event was superbly organized by the Sports Federation for the Disabled of Slovenia – Slovenian Paralympic Committee, the national umbrella association for parasport in Slovenia. This was also the last tournament on such a high level before the Paralympic Games in Paris, taking place between August 28th and September 8th.

“This was once again an extremely strong tournament, 274 players from 45 countries participated. The only team missing from it was China, but they haven’t come as a complete team to any of the competitions this year. There were some fewer athletes than in the previous years, which is understandable: this is a Paralympic year and most of the players have already qualified for Paris. A number of those used the Laško event as training for the doubles as these will be part of the Paralympic programme for the first time ever this year. I would also like to point out that due to a lower number of participants, the event’s schedule was much easier on the players. When it is at its full capacity, the games are on from 8 a.m. till 10 p.m., but this time we were able to have the last rounds start at 7 p.m., therefore the athletes had more time for recovery,” said the tournament director Gorazd Vecko, who was once again in Laško also as the British national para table tennis manager.

“I would like to especially thank the tournament management team, to all the players and national team members, who came to Laško, and all the partners who support our para sport story. I can say that we have been together for 20 years now. First on this list must be Thermana Laško, covering all our accommodation and catering needs, the Tri Lilije sports hall and its manager, the Nomago transport group and the municipality of Laško, which co-organizes the event and assists especially with the accessibility issues. I am happy that the venue in Laško got proper air-conditioning, which allows for an even higher quality of events there. We have developed the tournament with sustainability in mind: PVC products are not used anymore and have been replaced by (also) paper ones. The umpires used paper bags instead of plastic ones for the rackets, for example. Water was made available in tanks and the cups were made of eco-friendly materials,” said Damijan Lazar, NPC Slovenia and OC president, emphasizing the importance of Slovenia hosting this event for the local, sports and national environments.

“This event matters! And reporting on it introduces us to the Slovenian public, and para sport to people with disabilities who might not be taking up any sports yet. Such events, such sports competitions of the highest international level are a great invitation for everyone to try their hands at para sports. And para sport is the means that enables disabled people an easier and better socialization,” Lazar adds.

The 19th I Feel Slovenia Thermana Open champions in singles are: Giada Rossi (ITA), Jiyu Yoon (KOR), Borislava Peric-Rankovic (SRB), Sunghye Moon (KOR), Maryna Lytovchenko (UKR), Bly Twomey (GBR), Florencia Perez (CHI), Li Na Lei (AUS), Qian Yang (AUS), Ebru Acer (TUR); Hyeon Uk Kim (KOR), Fabien Lamirault (FRA), Jenson Van Emburgh (USA), Wanchai Chaiwut (THA), Ming Chih Cheng (TPE), Matteo Parenzan (ITA), William John Bayley (GBR), Clement Berthier (FRA), Laurens Devos (BEL), Filip Radovic (MNG), Samuel Philip Von Einem (AUS). Republic of Korea was the most successful nation in the doubles events, winning 2 golds, followed by one gold for Japan, Poland, France, Thailand, Sweden, Great Britain, Turky, Norway and Taiwan.