by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In Lasko, the 17 year old Belgian Class 9 player maintained the form shown in Rio de Janeiro; however, for two further gold medallists in the Brazilian city, the Slovenian town did not reap the same rewards.
The tournament in St Niklaas is an opportunity for Florian Van Acker, like Laurens Devos from Belgium and Frenchman Fabien Lamirault to rekindle South American form.
At the recent European Para Championships Florian Van Acker experienced a penultimate round defeat when confronting Frenchman Lucas Creange and had to settle for bronze. Disappointment, for Fabien Lamirault of France, in Lasko the disappointment was even greater; there was no medal to show for the effort made. In Class 2, he was beaten at the quarter-final stage by Slovakia’s Martin Ludrovsky.
Somewhat similarly, also on duty in St Niklaas are Rio 2016 medal winners Frenchman Maxime Thomas, Germany’s Valentin Baus and Spain’s José Manuel Ruiz.
Maxime Thomas is very much the member of the group in form, bronze in Rio de Janeiro, in Lasko it was gold. Meanwhile for José Manuel Ruiz, competing in Class 10 it was bronze on both occasions. Alas, for Valentin Baus in Class 5, having won silver in Rio de Janeiro, he left Lasko with nothing to show for his efforts. He was beaten at the quarter-final stage by Serbia’s Mitar Palikuca
Medals in Lasko, there were also medals for three members of the Great Britain Team who will be in action in St Niklaas.
Guided by Gorazd Vecko, the British Para Team Performance Director, bronze medallist in Class 1, the name of Paul Davies appears on the entry list as do those of Paul Karabardak and Martin Perry; the latter two joined forces with David Wetherill, to secure gold in Men’s Team Class 6.
“Automatic qualification places for next year’s World Championships will be decided at the end of this year. The players we are sending to Belgium from the Performance Squad either need tournament credits or ranking points to secure qualification. It will also be exciting to see how the young players from the Pathway and Development squads are progressing and they will all benefit from the experience of another international competition.” Gorazd Vecko
Notable male names to note; in the female competitions, Germany’s Sandra Mikolaschek, the silver medallist in Lasko in Class 4-5 competes as does Great Britain’s Sue Gilroy, a silver medallist in the event.
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