At Last for Marcos Madrid, at First for Brian Afanador
2016 ITTF-Latin American Olympic Games Qualification
Courtesy of ITTF
Beaten in the decisive contest to determine a place in Beijing, the same pain four years later when London was the goal; at last, at the third time of asking it is success for Marcos Madrid.
At the 2016 ITTF-Latin American Olympic Games Qualification tournament in Santiago, Chile, the 29-year-old Mexican reserved his place in the Men’s Singles event at the forthcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The Hard Way
If anyone has found his way to the prestigious event by following the difficult route, it is Marcos Madrid; he beat Brazil’s Gustavo Tsuboi, the highest rated player in the whole competition to reserve his place in Rio de Janeiro.
Furthermore, he kept his supporters on the very edges of their seats as he recovered from a two games to nil and three games to one deficit to secure victory in the decisive contest (9-11, 8-11, 13-11, 5-11, 11-5, 13-11, 11-6).
On the latest World Rankings for April 2016, Marcos Madrid is listed at no.188, Gustavo Tsuboi at no.63.
Eight Year Mission
“Really I fought like a dog, I left my home over eight years ago with the goal of qualifying for the Olympic Games, now thanks to the support from my family I have achieved my goal”, said Marcos Madrid. “It is the greatest moment of my career; against Gustavo it was an intense struggle, each point was hard fought; now my dream has come true, I can enjoy my dream.”
Disappointment one day earlier when losing to Venezuela’s Luis Diaz in four straight games (11-7, 11-8, 11-8, 12-10), the response from Marcos Madrid reflected his character.
He always looks forward. After falling just one-step short four years ago when losing to Cuba’s Andy Pereira; he wrote on his Facebook page, words the effect that he did not make London, so now look forward to Rio.
Marcos Madrid does not dwell on disappointment, the attitude is positive and he has been rewarded.
“It was really tough draw”, added Marcos Madrid, who after beating Venezuela’s Cecilio Correa (11-9, 11-2, 14-16, 11-3, 11-3), had ousted Chile’s Felipe Olivares (11-4, 11-4, 11-8, 11-7) and Argentina’s Rodrigo Gilabert (11-4, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9) to book the showdown with Gustavo Tsuboi.
Notably, one day earlier, Felipe Olivares had reached the decisive contest, losing to Cuba’s Jorge Campos (11-3, 11-9, 11-7, 4-11, 1816 but beating Gustavo Tsuboi (9-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-4, 7-11, 9-11,11-5) en route.
“At the start of the match against Gustavo my forehand was not so good”, continued Marcos Madrid. “I am so pleased to have made it, so pleased for Mexico; it’s something we have been hoping to achieve for many years.”
A quite outstanding performance by Marcos Madrid; on his journey to the decisive duel, Gustavo Tsuboi had experienced few problems.
No full distance duels, he had beaten Guatemala’s Hector Gatica (11-7, 11-8, 11-4, 5-11, 11-3), Paraguay’s Alejandro Toranzos (11-4, 11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7) and Argentina’s Pablo Tabachnik (14-12, 11-8, 11-3, 9-11, 11-7).
Victory for Marcos Madrid means that he is only the second Mexican ever to qualify for the Men’s Singles event in table tennis competition at an Olympic Games; the one further player is Guillermo Muñoz, he played in 1996 in Atlanta two decades ago.
The only other Mexican to achieve the goal is Yadira Silva; she competed in Beijing in 2008 and four years ago in London. In Santiago still has a chance to make it three in a row.
Success at his third attempt for Marcos Madrid; for Puerto Rico’s Brian Afanador it was quite the reverse; it was success at the first attempt!
It is the first time the 19 year old has competed in an Olympic Games qualification tournament; furthermore, he achieved the goal without any seven game dramas.
In his opening contest, he overcame Jamaica’s Simon Tomlinson (11-5, 11-7, 11-3, 11-3), before beating Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre (16-14, 6-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 12-10) and the host nation’s Gustavo Gomez (9-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8, 11-2) to reserve his place in the decisive contest where he faced another Chilean.
He confronted Juan Lamadrid, duly kept his nerve and in impressive style emerged victorious (12-10, 11-7, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9).
“Playing against Gustavo and Juan I was always playing against the home support”, said Brian Afanador, who was in no way critical of the Chilean supporters and fully appreciated that if the contests had been in Puerto Rico it would have been the opposite scenario.
“It’s a big success for me; today I played without great tactics, I just played from the heart”, added Brian Afanador. “I thank everyone who has helped me in the past four year Olympic cycle.”
A fine effort from Brian Afanador, he had beaten a man in form to secure his place in Rio de Janeiro.
En route to the decisive contest, Juan Lamadrid had beaten Uruguay’s Gonzalo Lorenzotti (11-5, 11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 11-4), the Dominican Repblic’s Emil Santos (11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9) and Peru’s Diego Rodriguez (11-8, 11-6, 11-5, 7-11, 11-6).
Mission accomplished and for Puerto Rico another special moment; one day earlier Adriana Diaz had booked her place in the Women’s Singles event.
They are the first ever athletes from Puerto Rico to qualify for the table tennis events at an Olympic Games; furthermore, they both hail from Utuado in the very center of the island.
In that town table tennis rules; the only town in the world where it is rumored there are more table tennis tables than people!