21 Mar 2017

“Latin America comes to compete, not to participate”, those were the words of Juan Vila, Latin American Table Tennis Union’s President, after watching Latin American players in the preliminary rounds at Rio 2016. In the past Olympic Games Latin American players just to win a single match, now this golden generation thinks big.

In Rio Latin America is represented by young and experienced players. The experienced players are Mexico’s Marcos Madrid and Yadira Silva, Brazil’s Gustavo Tsuboi, Colombia’s Lady Ruano, Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre alongside Cuba’s Andy Pereira and Jorge Campos.

Mexican players enjoyed success in the preliminary round and also made history for their country by winning their first matches at Olympic Games. Silva defeated Siria’s Heba Allejji four-nil while Madrid beat Vanuatu’s Yoshua Shing four-nil. In the first round they lost to Slovakia’s Wang Yang and Barbora Balazova, respectively.

Gustavo Tsuboi couldn’t succeed in his opening match he lost to Congo Brazzaville’s Wang Jianan in straight games in the first round. Unfortunately Cuban players didn’t manage to win either. Andy Pereira fell against Hugo Calderano four-nil and Jorge Campos was eliminated by Canada’s Eugene Wang four-two.

Lady Ruano suffered the same fate and was beaten by Czech Republic’s Iveta Vacenovska by four-nil in the preliminary round. Marcelo Aguirre progressed to the first round after beating Australia’s David Powell four-nil but then he wasn’t able to beat Poland’s Jakub Dyjas.

Brazil’s Caroline Kumahara and Lin Gui made the crowd celebrate. Kumahara made a winning debut against Australia’s Melissa Tapper four-two and her teammate overcame Spain’s Galia Dvorak by the same score.

However, they couldn’t find victory route in the next match. Kumahara was defeated by Luxemburg’s Ni Xia Lian four-three while Gui faced defeat against Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, 2015 European champion, four-nil.

Fans Dream

Andreina Arvelo couldn’t win in her first Olympic participation. She showed disappointment after losing to USA’s pride Lily Zhang in straight games.

On the contrary, Brian Afanador, Adriana Díaz and Hugo Calderano, who aren’t older than 20 years, make Latin American fans dream. Afanador emerged successfully over Congo Brazzaville’s Suraju Saka four-three. In his next match he lost to Omar Assar after winning the first two games. It was a painful defeat; his eyes were full of tears. But he dried his tears and got close to the media waiting for him and said: “There is more of Brian Afanador, pay attention to me.”

Adriana Diaz shares the same spirit as her cousin; she wants to be the first Puerto Rican Table Tennis player to win an Olympic medal. Her road started with the win over Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike four-two. France’s Li Xue was her opponent, an experienced defensive player. Adriana put a brave fight but she was eventually beaten by Li. She was stopped now but her road to Tokyo 2020 is just beginning.

Hugo Calderano continues in the competition. He showed a solid performance against Pereira and won by 4-0 in the first round. His next opponent was Pär Gerell of Sweden. The Brazilian star delighted the local crown again with his amazing game and reached victory by 4-1. Tang Peng of Hong Kong will be his next opponent in Rio 2016.

We don’t know if this will be Brazil’s chance to win a medal at the Olympics, but one thing is sure: Hugo Calderano, Adriana Díaz and Brian Afanador will continue competing for their dreams.

Rio 2016 Rio Men's News Rio Women's News Hugo Calderano Adriana Diaz Brian Afanador Latin America

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