11 Sep 2016

Silver medallist in London; on the morning of Sunday 11th September in Riocentro Pavilion 3, Spain’s Alvaro Valera gained revenge for his defeat in the final in the ExCeL Exhibition Centre four years ago.

Competing in Men’s Singles Class 6; at the semi-final stage he beat Thailand’s Rungroj Thainiyom in four games (11-3, 11-9, 10-12, 11-3).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

A hard fought contest was the order of the day; matters very much in the balance after Rungroj Thainiyom had secured the third game and threatened a recovery.

Big challenge

“Today was the day I gave it back; it was for me a big challenge”, said Alvaro Valera. “I had to address the mistakes that I had made in London; I had to approach things differently in this match.”

Most certainly Alvaro Valera was ready for the battle and he approached matters in a positive frame of mind, supporting the adage that if you win a lose match then your confidence grows.

One day earlier at the quarter-final stage, he had saved one match point in the third game against Great Britain’s David Wetherill before progressing to secure vitory.

Becoming weaker

“Yes I entered today’s match with a degree of confidence but the problem is that my condition is getting worse”, explained Alvaro Valera. “I suffer from CMT, I am becoming weaker, I have less power and my movement is now much less.”

CMT is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease; it is a form of Muscular Dystrophy. Gradually owing to nerve damage the sufferer becomes weaker over the years.

The fact is illustrated that when he won gold 16 years ago in the Australian city of Sydney; he was in Class 8; the deteriorating condition has necessitated re-classification.

Moves better

“Rungroj moves better than me”, added Alvaro Valera. “I have to try to play with good feeling, good touch.”

One of the major problems for Alvaro Valera was that Rungroj Thaniyom is left handed; he had to prevent his Thai adversary gaining angles from the backhand wide to the forehand.

Just like his venerable compatriot, who competed a month ago at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the one and only He Zhiwen, “Juanito”, Alvaro Valera played smart!

In the final a familiar foe awaits; he confronts Denmark’s Peter Rosenmeier, the player he beat just under one year ago in the final at the European Para Championships in Vejle.

Danish delirium

In the counterpart semi-final Peter Rosenmeier overcame Korea’s Park Hongkyu to the delight of the massed ranks of Danish supporters.

Once again wherever you looked you saw red shirts with the badge of the white crowd; furthermore they are seem as though they are becoming Latin American.

They went bonkers when Peter Rosenmeier won the last point!