Mitch Seidenfeld (USA): Silver
Stephanie Chan (CAN): Bronze
Courtesy of ITTF
Margarita Island, 40 kilometers north of the Venezuelan coastline is the home for an increasingly popular annual invitation table tennis tournament; however in 2009 it is the home for a table tennis tournament of a different nature.
It is the home for the 7th Parapanamerican Table Tennis Championships, the first time the tournament has been staged in Venezuela. A total of 103 players from 10 countries are taking part with Ecuador and Guyana joining the fray by sending representatives for the first time.
The open events concluded on Tuesday September 29, 2009.
In Open events players in the same category compete in one competition. Therefore all Wheelchair athletes (Classes One to Five) compete together and all Standing athletes (Classes Six to Ten) play together. In each event there is one competition for men and one for women.
Winner of the Men’s Singles Standing Class was Tahl Leibovitz of the United States, a player dominant in this category in recent times, having now won the title on three consecutive occasions. He is one of the coaches at the Susan Sarandon Spin Club in New York and is involved in social work.
He finished in first place ahead of Mitch Siedenfeld, also of the United States and Brazil’s Edimilson Pinheiro.
"I felt bad to defeat my partner and friend Mitch Seidenfeld in the final”, said Tahl Leibovitz. “I think he is the most talented player here; I just try to focus on each match.”
Third place for Brazil but in the counterpart female event it was success for Brazil.
Jane Rodrigues who competed in the ITTF Pro Tour tournaments in Belo Horizonte in 2007 and 2008 emerged victorious ahead of Argentina’s Giselle Muñoz and Canada’s Stephanie Chan.
Gold for Brazil in the Women’s Singles Standing Class and more gold in the Men’s Singles Wheelchair Class; in fact a clean sweep of medals. Claudiomiro Segatto secured gold; silver went to Weldner Knaf and bronze to Ezequiel Babes.
A member of the Brazilian national team since 2001, 38 year old Claudiomiro Segatto from Curitiba was delighted.
"I never had a medal in a Panam open event, the level of play in the Americas is increasing and I think the open is the most difficult event because all the wheelchair players are together”, he said. “Now I want to win gold in singles and qualify for the 2010 World Championships in Korea."
The Class events have a particular significance; the winners in each class gain a place in the 2010 World Championships.
Meanwhile, in the Women’s Wheelchair Class, the dominant country was Mexico with gold going to Edith Sigala Lopez and silver to her Mexican compatriot, Maria Paredes; the bronze medal was won by Argentina’s Marta Makishi.
Similar to Claudiomiro Segatto it was for 33 year old Edith Sigala Lopez, her first win in a Panam Open event and it was an outstanding achievement. The lower the number, the more severe the disability, Edith Sigala Lopez is a Class Three athlete; therefore in the Open competition she had to compete against players from Class Four and Class Five.
"I didn’t expect to win the open, in fact it is my first time”, said Edith Sigala Lopez. “My motivation comes from my model player, Cristina Hoffmann, former Panam champion from Mexico; she who always tells me, the match is not finished until the last point."
Very true and very good advice!
A successful tournament and for Brazil, a total of five medals; understandably Edir Oliveira, the Chef de Mission, was pleased.
“I am quite satisfied with the results of our team, we have a long way to go to be at the optimal level but we are in the right direction”, he said. “The national plan is reaping results."
Equally Leandro Olvech, the ITTF Coordinator of Development Programs and the Technical Delegate in Venezuela was in a positive mood.
“I am quite happy seeing new players here; it is remarkable that Ecuador and Guyana are attending the Panams for the first time”, he explained. “We have organized an ITTF Development Program coaching course in Guyana last year which included the Para Table Tennis element, now we are seeing the results.”
A positive and for all concerned certainly seeing courses produce athletes is a motivating factor, one which has motivated Leandro Olvech.
Photo By: Leandro Olvech
1. Jane Rodrigues (BRA)
2. Giselle Munoz (ARG)
3. Stephanie Chan (CAN)
1. Edith Sigala Lopez (MEX)
2. Maria Paredes (MEX)
3. Marta Makishi (ARG)
1. Tahl Leibovitz (USA)
2. Mitch Seidenfeld (USA)
3. Edimilson Pinheiro (BRA)
1. Claudiomiro Segatto (BRA)
2. Welder Knaf (BRA)
3. Ezequiel Babes (BRA)