The Presidential View, Most Important Female Athlete is Adriana Diaz
Courtesy of ITTF
Currently, she is the most important, the famous female athlete in the whole of the country; that is not the opinion expressed by any member of the Puerto Rico Table Tennis Federation, it is the view of none other than Sara Rosario, the President of the Puerto Rican National Olympic Committee.
In the Caribbean island, Adriana Diaz, even the only 15 years old, is a well-known name; such is her celebrity status that more than one major company seeks her face to promote their products.
Most recently on Tuesday February 9th, following the conclusion of the 2016 ITTF-Latin American Championships in the island’s capital city of San Juan, she was involved in a promotion organized by Pantene, where a lock of her hair was cut to be donated to women who are suffering from cancer.
It was yet another example of the high demand for her endorsement and the ever higher status of table tennis in an island basketball and football are the traditionally strong sports.
Seeking to Win Medals
“We know look to table tennis to win medals”, said Sara Rosario who assumed Presidential office in 2012; thus becoming the first female to hold the position.
A recipient of a prestigious International Olympic Committee award for her services to sport in the Americas, she has been the Chef de Mission at all major sporting gatherings including the Central American and Caribbean Games, the Pan American Games and the Olympic Games since 2002.
Pertinently, she will fulfil the post at the forthcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
High Performance Program
Winning medals, success at the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games, later at the 2015 Pan American Games has been recognized; the policy followed in many countries throughout the world is pursued.
Chances of success high, there is increased funding from the High Level Performance budget. Table tennis represents major medal hopes and is thus a beneficiary; the shining star is Adriana Diaz.
“I’m always been asked about Adriana”, continued Sara Rosario. “We are very much looking towards the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018 and we have a special program in mind for Adriana.”
It would seem that by the day, the name of Adriana Diaz is increasingly a household name; meeting someone not connected with table tennis and explaining my reasons for being in Puerto Rico, the response was immediate. “Yes, I saw Adriana Diaz play on Saturday afternoon.”
Simply the person concerned had made a point of tuning in to watch table tennis because Adriana Diaz was playing; endless analysis of the Super Bowl on competing channels had to take second stage.
Great credit must go to parents Bladimir and Marangely Diaz in addition to Eladio Afanador, who alongside Bladimir Diaz, is fulfils a major coaching role.
In the town of Utuado, with government help, they have built a state-of-the-art air conditioned table tennis club with accommodation; training sessions are during the day with school organized in the evening.
Equally, Ivan Santos, the President of the Puerto Rico Table Tennis Federation, must be congratulated on his efforts; there is harmony throughout, at the recent 2016 ITTF-Latin American Championships everyone was pulling in the same direction.
Everyone wanted to witness a successful tournament and of course everyone wanted Puerto Rican success.
Most notably there is a very close relationship between the Puerto Rican Table Tennis Federation and the National Olympic Committee; Ivan Santos and Sara Rosario could be brother and sister!
“I meet with the President of each national federation in January to look at the plans for the year”, explained Sara Rosario. “We have four General Meetings each year to which every federation sends a representative; in addition we have and Executive Committee Meeting every month.”
The Executive Committee comprises seven members; Ivan Santos is one of the magnificent seven.
Established in Position
Twice the national champion, winning in 1979 and 1984; he became Vice President of the Puerto Rican Table Tennis Federation in 1988, he became President in 1992 and maintained the position until 2005.
In that year, he stood down in favor of Angelo Medina, the manager of the celebrated singer and great showman, Ricky Martin. Ivan Santos returned to office in 2010 and has fulfilled the role ever since that date.
Lizette “Kiki” Gagean
Notably in 1992 he succeeded Lizette “Kiki” Gagean; widely believed to be the first ever female in President of a national table tennis association.
The ladies play a major role in promoting Puerto Rico, none more so than Sara Rosario and equally none more so than the star name, the name that is rapidly becoming the face of Puerto Rico, the smiling face of Adriana Diaz.