Coach Ricardo Faria (right) congratulates Tiago Apolonia (left) after his success in Qatar
Photo By: Adel Hakouz
2012 Final World Olympic Qualification Tournament
A reaction block, lightning anticipation, secured victory for Tiago Apolonia in his second round Menís Singles duel against Ukraineís Kou Lei, at the Final World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Doha on the afternoon of Saturday 12th May 2012.
Furthermore, the win is surely sufficient to have booked Portugal a place in the Menís Team event at the forthcoming London 2012 Olympic Games.
Pending final ratification, the trio of Tiago Apolonia, Marcos Freitas and Jo„o Monteiro will be on duty in the spacious ExCel Arena later this year in July.
Marcos Freitas and Jo„o Monteiro both qualified for the London Olympic Games by emerging successful at the recent European Olympic Qualification Tournament in Luxembourg.
In Doha, the victory recorded by Tiago Apolonia over Kou Lei (11-7, 11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 5-11, 11-9) should prove sufficient for Portugal to have grabbed the final place available in the Menís Team event.
Unless I need new spectacles, contact lenses or laser eye surgery, there are no obvious challengers.
China, Germany, Korea, Japan, Austria, Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong, Portugal, DPR Korea, Russia, Egypt, Brazil, Canada and Australia had all booked their places as a result of World ranking and continental qualification.
One place remained, the signs are that it belongs to Portugal.
Menís Singles and Menís Team
A maximum of two players from any one National Olympic Committee is eligible for the singles events; in London we can expect to see Marcos Freitas and Jo„o Monteiro on duty in the Menís Singles event.
Undoubtedly, Tiago Apolonia will join them in the Menís Team competition.
A Happier Experience
Tiago Apolonia can leave the Aspire Zone in Doha on Sunday 13th May with better memories than earlier in the year in February, when at the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open, he limped out of the arena after losing to Chinese Taipeiís Chuang Chih-Yuan in the second round of the Menís Singles event.
He had injured his knee.
ďThe problem is with the meniscusĒ, explained Tiago Apolonia, who has played throughout in Doha with the damaged knee heavily strapped. ďIíve been able to practise only one session a day and Iím still in the recovery process.Ē
One Year Later
Eventually, it is success for Tiago Apolonia after two attempts in qualifying tournaments; in Luxembourg he did not make the grade. Furthermore, itís a procedure he nearly avoided.
Following the GAC GROUP 2011 World Championships in Rotterdam, Tiago Apolonia was just one place below qualification by ranking; a wait of 12 months to claim his Olympic place would seem to be over.
Equally, those who succeeded in the second round of the Menís Singles event in Doha and thus booked quarter-final places can start to dream of visiting Englandís capital city in July.
Again subject official confirmation, Italyís Mihai Bobocica, Polandís Wang Zeng Yi, Croatia's Andrej Gacina, Ukraineís Oleksandr Didukh, Denmarkís Allan Bentsen, Turkeyís Bora Vang and Spainís Carlos Machado are all London bound.
Same Half of Draw
In the same half of the draw as Tiago Apolonia, Mihai Bobocica beat Latviaís Matiss Burgis (11-5, 11-9, 11-8, 13-11), Wang Zeng Yi overcame the defensive skills of the Slovak Republicís Wang Yang (11-8, 11-3, 11-13, 11-9, 3-11, 13-11) and Andrej Gacina dented the hopes of the Czech Republicís Dmitrij Prokopcov (11-5, 9-11, 15-13, 7-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6).
Lower Half of Draw
Meanwhile, in the lower half of the draw, Oleksandr Didukh accounted for Konstantinos Papageorgiou of Greece (11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4), Allan Bentsen proved too secure for Great Britainís Andrew Baggaley, Bora Vang defeated Ukraineís Yaroslav Zhmudenko (11-7, 14-12, 12-10, 4-11, 12-10) and Carlos Machado inflicted more pain on the country that will host the 2012 Olympic Games.
He beat Paul Drinkhall (11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 8-11, 6-11, 11-5).
Door Still Open
Defeats but the door is not totally closed on the vanquished; ten places in total in London may well prove the concluding scenario for the men.