Latin America Welcomes China, Puerto Rico Hosts Five Day Training Camp
Courtesy of ITTF
China in Europe and China in Africa; now it is China in Latin America; the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico is the home. Proceedings commenced on Wednesday August 12th and will conclude on Sunday August 16th.
Home for the whole five days is the venue named after the late Nilmaris Santini Martin; she won judo gold at the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis and in so doing became the first Puerto Rican to secure the top step of the medal podium at the multi-sport gathering. Born in 1959, she sadly died in 2006.
Accommodation, including all meals has been organized at the Hyatt House hotel
Dr. Zhang Xiaopeng
Led by Dr. Zhang Xiaopeng, the Chinese group comprises two coaches in the guise of Liu Bin and Li Dacheng, six players, three boys and three girls plus representatives from the Double Happiness Company and the Chinese media.
“We are very happy to come this most beautiful country in the Caribbean”, said Dr. Zhang Xiaopeng. “I am sure that the organization will be perfect.”
Three Regions Represented
One day prior to the Training Camp commencing players from the three regions of Latin America – Caribbean, Central America, South America – arrived in San Juan.
All were accompanied by personal coaches with Ramon Ortega Montes, alias Moncho, the Latin American Table Tennis Union’s Development Officer, at the helm to administer proceedings.
A visit to the venue and to the National Olympic Committee, who will host a dinner on Wednesday August 12th, was organized on the day prior to proceeding commencing.
Additionally, on the eve of the Training Camp, La Cadena National Radio broadcast a two hour program commencing at 11.40am at which Ivan Santos, the President of the Puerto Rican Table Tennis Federation was present alongside Ramon Ortega Montes, Eladio Afanador, National Team Coach and Omar Ledee from the Department of Sport. Puerto Rican players Brian Afanador and Yomar Gonzalez also attended.
Dream and Reality
“This is a very first time for two reasons, China is in Latin America and also China is in Puerto Rico, I´m very glad”, said Ivan Santos. “I remember 20 years ago when I saw Chinese players at Super Eight movies playing; now to have Chinese players here it´s like a dream”.
Like a dream but to Brian Afanador, the players are more than reality.
“I know the Chinese male players from a Training Camp in China and from the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games”, explained Brian Afanador. “Now whenever we meet we are good friends.”
Later at 2.00pm a Press Conference was held, notable names in attendance being Juan Figueroa, Deputy Secretary of Sport and Sara Rosario President of the National Olympic Committee in addition to Dr. Zhang Xiaopeng, Ivan Santos and Ramon Ortega-Montes.
“I´m sure that you will feel at home in Puerto Rico”, said Juan Figueroa. “I will be around all week to support you.”
It was a very similar response from Sara Rosario.
“Welcome to Puerto Rico and enjoy not only the training but also the country.”, she said.
Training sessions are scheduled each day from 9.00am to 11.40 am and from 3.30pm to 5.30pm.
Notably in addition to the Training Sessions, cultural visits will be held to give all a chance to see places of particular interest.
It is a far seeing project made possible thanks to the co-operation between the Chinese Table Tennis Association, the Puerto Rican Table Tennis Federation, the Puerto Rican Sports Department, the Puerto Rican National Olympic Committee and the ITTF Dream Building Program.
Furthermore, the venture is also supported by the Double Happiness Company; they have kindly supplied racket coverings, blades, shirts, tables and robots to the Organizing Committee.
“Thank you to all the sponsors, the Chinese Table Tennis Association, the Puerto Rico Table Tennis Federation, the Latin American Table Tennis Union and the local stakeholders who are supporting this event”, said Ramon Ortega Montes. “Players, coaches and media, let´s enjoy.”
The Latin American countries attending are Aruba, Barbados, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Peru, Puerto Rico, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.”