by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The name announced, it was a moment to savour.
“I felt very anxious when everyone cheered, a little nervous but on the other side of the coin it was a really great feeling”, said Welder Knaf who asked for an interpreter and then spoke in fluent English!
“I spoke to my coach, Alexandre Ghizi, after the announcement”, added Welder Knaf. “It was such a surprise; I knew from the Olympic Games that the crowd had been tremendous but it was something that I had never witnessed, just amazing!”
A touch of nerves but winning the opening game calmed the brow of the Brazilian.
“For sure winning that first game settled me down”, added Welder Knaf. “I was so focused and after winning that first game I just said to myself keep going, keep going.”
Urged forward by the fervent crowd, Weldner Knaf kept going; he asserted his authority on the contest.
“I felt my forehand was strong today; he plays with short pimpled rubber on the forehand, I pushed the ball hard with backspin to his forehand and then I got quite and easy return”, explained Weldner Knaff. “Winning my first match; it is just an amazing feeling.”
An amazing feeling in what is his third Paralympic Games and perhaps for Weldner Knaff there is an extra reason to achieve in Rio de Janeiro.
On debut at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, Weldner Knaf partnered Luiz Algacir Silva to the silver medal in Men’s Team Class 3; for both and for Alaor Azevedo, the President of the Brazilian Table Tennis Confederation, it was a moment of sheer delight.
Sadly, soon after the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games Luiz Algacir Silva passed away.
Just as José María Olazábal looked to the heavens after Europe had won the Ryder Cup in 2012 and uttered words to the effect that the win was for the late Severiano Ballesteros; so the win in the Rioentro was for Luiz Algacir Silva.