As the dust settled on Saturday, 25th May, at the ITTF Paralympic World Singles Qualification Tournament in Pattaya, the hopes for a repeat success in Paris remain bright for several notable athletes who shone in Tokyo 2020.

In this high-stakes tournament, only the top spot guaranteed a ticket to the prestigious quadrennial event in Paris. The pressure was intense, as second place offered no consolation.

In the women’s singles, independent athletes Elena Prokofeva, Maliak Alieva, and Victoriya Safanova, all competing in the same classes as in Tokyo 2020, kept their Paralympic dreams alive. Prokofeva, the gold medallist, triumphed in class 11, while silver medallists Alieva and Safanova emerged victorious in classes 6 and 7, respectively.

In the men’s singles, Thailand’s Thirayu Chueawong (class 3) and Germany’s Bjoern Schnake (class 7) secured their spots for Paris. Both athletes were bronze medallists in the men’s team events in Tokyo—Chueawong in class 3 and Schnake in class 6-7. Another name to note is Hou Chunxia, a bronze medallist from Beijing 2008, who claimed victory in the women’s singles class 10.

The tournament also saw players with impressive records at the World Para Championships securing their places for Paris. Italy’s Andrea Borgato, competing in the same class as at the Andalucia 2022 World Para Championships in Granada, emerged victorious in men’s singles class 1. Similarly, Argentina’s Maria Garrone won in women’s singles class 1-2, Thailand’s Wijittra Jaion in class 4, and Panwas Sringam in class 5. In Granada, Jaion won gold, Sringam took silver, and Borgato and Garrone claimed bronze.

Jennyfer Parinos, who won women’s singles class 9 in Pattaya, was also a member of Brazil’s gold medal-winning team at the 2017 World Team Para Championships in Bratislava. The tournament highlighted several players who have enjoyed success at major multi-sport events, showcasing their readiness to challenge for honours in Paris.

Chile’s Matias Pino will be heading to the Paris Paralympic Games after emerging as the Men’s Singles Class 6 winner. (Photo: Chanya Charoenmit)

Notably, Chile’s Matias Pino (men’s singles class 6) and Japan’s Takeshi Takamori (men’s singles class 11) secured their tickets, while Thailand’s Patamawadee Intanon triumphed in women’s singles class 3. Pino won gold at the 2023 Para Pan American Games, Intanon claimed gold in class 1-3 at the 2023 World Ability Games, and Takamori secured silver at the 2022 Asian Games.

Formidable opponents in Paris could also include those who have claimed titles at international tournaments this year. Elena Litvinenko, an independent athlete, won women’s singles class 8 in Kazakhstan and replicated her success in Pattaya. Frenchman Sylvain Noel (men’s singles class 3) and Ivan Karpov, another independent athlete who won men’s singles class 10, also demonstrated their prowess.

Earlier this year, bronze medallists on the Costa Brava, Japan’s Genki Saito (class 4) and Serbia’s Mitar Palikuca (class 5), topped their categories in Pattaya. Likewise, Liu Chaodong from China (men’s singles class 9) and Croatia’s Borna Zohil (men’s singles class 8), who claimed silver and bronze respectively in Poland, won gold in Pattaya.

With their tickets to Paris secured, the athletes now turn their attention to the next major event on the calendar—the four-day 2024 ITTF Taipei City Para Open, commencing on Wednesday, 29th May. This event will set the stage for what promises to be an exhilarating Paralympic showdown in Paris.

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