(by Steve Hopkins/Photo by USATT)
The Parapan American Games is taking place in Lima this week. The event was scheduled to follow the Pan Am Games, which concluded two weeks ago, and to mirror many of the venues and facilities. Table Tennis at the Parapan American Games is open to athletes with physical impairments, competing in a variety of classifications which include both sitting and standing. Para Table Tennis began on August 22 and will close on August 27.
Saturday, August 24th was a big day for medals as each of the singles events came to a close. Four Americans were on their respective podiums at the end of the day.
In Men’s Singles Class 3, 19-year-old Butterfly player Jenson Van Emburgh ripped through the group play with two 3-0 wins. He then defeated Brazil’s David Freitas 3-1 in the Quarterfinals and Brazil’s Welder Knaf 3-1 in the Semifinals. Jenson jumped out to an early lead in the Final with an 11-7 first game win, but Argentina’s Gabriel Copola won each of the next three leaving Van Emburgh with the Silver medal.
In Men’s Singles Class 5, USA’s Ahad Sarand won the Silver medal. The final against Argentina’s Mauro Depergola went five games with the fifth game an 11-9 nail-biter. The 54 year-old Sarand fell just short in the Final, but had strong wins in his three other matches.
18 year old Ian Seidenfeld won the Silver in Men’s Singles Class 6. Ian fought his way through the group with wins over Peru’ Yanez 3-0, Brazil’s Rodrigues 3-0, and Chile’s Pino 3-2. He then won the Semifinal with a win over Chile’s Dettoni 3-1. The Final was a rematch with Matias Pino, and like many rematches, the result was not the same. Pino managed to win the first two games 11-9 and 11-9 before pulling away in the third for the 3-0 win. If there is a consolation, Ian did beat every player he faced – but he fell just short in the Finals rematch.
In Class 9 Singles, one of the most decorated table tennis athletes in history came through again. Tahl Leibovitz who has won gold at the Parapan 13 previous times, took the title again. Leibovitz breezed through four matches on his way to the Final, winning each 3-0. The Final was no breeze. After four games, Tahl and Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez found themselves tied 10-10 in the fifth and final game. Tahl won the final two points, and his 14th Parpan Gold. All three games that Tahl won were by a 2-point margin – in fact, because of those narrow margins, his opponent actually scored a few more points in the match. But when it mattered the most, it was all Tahl – a 3-2 win for the title.
Team events begin on Sunday with medal rounds on Monday and Tuesday.
Singles Results (Gold, Silver, Bronze/Bronze):
Class 1 Men: Fernandez (CUB), Junior (BRA), Contessi (BRA) / Eberhardt (ARG)
Class 2 Men: Reyes (MEX), Flores (CHI), Costa (BRA) / Espindola (BRA)
Class 3 Men: Copola (ARG), Van Emburgh (USA), Knaf (BRA) / Quijada (VEN)
Class 4 Men: Gonzalez (CHI), Babes (BRA), Ank (BRA / Rodriguez (CHI)
Class 5 Men: Depergola (ARG), Sarand (USA), Rodriguez (ARG) / Romero (ARG)
Class 6 Men: Pino (CHI), Seidenfeld (USA), Dettoni (CHI) / Torres (CHI)
Class 7 Men: Salmin (BRA), Kaniuka (ARG), Vargas (COL)
Class 8 Men: Manara (BRA), Roman (CRC), Henao (COL) / Kent (CAN)
Class 9 Men: Leibovitz (USA), Vazquez (MEX), Carvalho (BRA ) / Da Silva (BRA)
Class 10 Men: Carbinatti (BRA), Moura (BRA), Echaveguren (CHI) / Manso (CUB)
Class 2-3 Women: Sigala (MEX), Santos (BRA), Oliveira (BRA) / Silva (CUB)
Class 4 Women: De Oliveira (BRA), Verdin (MEX), Fernandez (VEN) / Guapi (COL)
Class 5 Women: Leonelli (CHI), Kuell (ARG)
Class 7 Women: Perez (MEX), Munoz (ARG), Chan (CAN)
Class 8-10 Women: Rauen (BRA), Parinos (BRA), Espinoza (CHI) / Lacerda (BRA)
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