Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Yadira Silva and Paula Medina Book Final Places on Offer for Beijing
Mexico’s Yadira Silva and Colombia’s Paula Medina clinched the final two places on offer for the Women’s Singles event at the forthcoming Beijing Olympic Games when they emerged successful in Santo Domingo on Tuesday 1at April 2008.

In the decisive matches both faced adversaries from the country of their birth. Paula Medina confronted compatriot Luisa Zuluaga whilst Yadira Silva faced Cuba’s Glendys Gonzalez; the link in the latter contest being that Yadira Silva lived in Cuba until she married four years ago and moved to Mexico.
Paula Medina took her chances and secured a place in Beijing
Paula Medina secured victory in four straight games whilst for Yadira Silva she needed six.

Seeded two, Paula Medina duly reached her allotted place in the draw beating Chile’s Melita Yanez, El Salvador’s Wang de Ying and Trinidad and Tobago’s Rheann Chung en route to the showdown against Luisa Zuluaga. It was a most impressive performance and underlined the fact that in the next decade she could well become an icon in Latin American table tennis.

She surrendered only one individual game during the whole day, that being against Rheann Chung.

Stars Missing
“I knew today was my last chance but there was no Wu Xue, no Lian Qian and no Fabiola Ramos, so I knew I had a real opportunity”, said Paula Medina who had highlighted the names of the three players who are a few steps ahead of other female players in Latin America.

“Today, I feel I played well, my head was good and I was relaxed”, continued Paula Medina who had to face her close friend in the match that would take her to Beijing.

“Luisa is gentle, I think against me she didn’t really believe she could win”, added Paula Medina. “However, if she plays well, she has a real chance to qualify in 2012.”

Meanwhile, for Yadira Silva her path to Beijing on Tuesday 1st April 2008 had been a little more tension packed.

Testing Route
She had opened her account with a five games victory over Cuba’s Dayana Ferrer before beating top seed, Chile’s Berta Rodriguez in round in a close seven games duel.

The win booked her a penultimate match berth against Colombia’s Johana Araque, a contest she won in straight games to set up a showdown against Glendys Gonzales. The crucial match was hard fought with a six games verdict being the end result.

“I felt calm and relaxed today”, said Yadira Silva. “I didn’t think about winning or losing, just to play one match at a time.”

In that respect Yadira Silva succeeded.

“Against Glendys it was a psychological battle, we know each other very well”, explained Yadira Silva. “It was a mental match; now it’s over, I just feel fantastic, great!”

Second Only
The reaction was understandable; she had booked her ticket to the Olympic Games and was only the second player from Central America to qualify for the table tennis events at the Olympic Games; the other being Izzwa Medina of Honduras in 2004.

Women Qualifiers
Wu Xue (DOM), Fabiola Ramos (VEN), Lian Qian (DOM), Mariany Nonaka (BRA), Paula Medina (COL), Yadira Silva (MEX).