by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Born in Tunisia but now resident in Italy, 34 year old Mohamed Kalem caused one of the biggest upsets in Rio de Janeiro; at the quarter-final stage of Men’s Singles Class 9, he overcame the Beijing gold medallist, China’s Ma Lin in a dramatic full distance five games encounter (6-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5).
Later at the semi-final stage he was beaten by Gerben Last of the Netherlands, the eventual runner up (11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 11-9), before in the vital bronze medal contest accounting for Spain’s Juan Perez (11-7, 11-8, 11-6).
Third place in Rio de Janeiro; notably early in the year, he enjoyed gold. He won the Men’s Singles Class 9 title on home soil at the Lignano Masters.
Undoubtedly, Mohamed Kalem produced one of the most outstanding performances of the whole tournament; his efforts overshadowing those of Gabriel Copola and Giselle Muñoz. Each performed most creditably.
Gabriel Copola secured first place in his Men’s Singles Class 3 group causing somewhat of an upset by beating Korea’s Kim Jeongseok, the no.8 seed (12-10, 11-7, 11-7), prior to experiencing an opening round main draw defeat when opposing Brazil’s Welder Knaf (8-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-3).
Meanwhile, for Giselle Muñoz, it was third place in her Women’s Singles Class 7 group in Rio de Janeiro, in what proved the toughest group of all. She finished behind Kelly Van Zon and Turkey’s Kubra Korbut.
Later Kelly Van Zon beat Kubra Korbut (11-9, 11-9, 11-5 in the final to secure the gold medal!
A total of 65 men and 11 women will compete in the Copa Tango. They represent the national associations of Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Germany, Italy, Peru, Russia, Uruguay and Venezuela.
2016 Copa Tango Junior Open Championships: Draw and Full Results