by Ian Marshall, Editor
Furthermore, both are very much in the hunt for honours; in the Women’s Singles event Adriana Diaz is the no.4 seed, Bruna Takahashi, the no.7 seed. Meanwhile, in the Mixed International Team competition, Adriana Diaz partners Chile’s Nicolas Burgos; Bruna Takahashi joins forces with colleague Guilherme Teodoro.
Notably, the appearance of both players means that each country maintains its record of being represented at all three Youth Olympic Games; for Puerto Rico, Carelyn Cordero played in 2010 in Singapore as four years ago did Brian Afanador in Nanjing. Similarly eight years ago Eric Jouti and Caroline Kumahara represented Brazil; in Nanjing Hugo Calderano was on duty.
It is the example of Hugo Calderano that Bruna Takahashi and Adriana Diaz seek to emulate. Memorably in Nanjing, after losing to Japan’s Yuto Muramatsu at the semi-final stage, Hugo Calderano beat Chinese Taipei’s Yang Heng-Wei to secure the bronze medal.
Accepted that many moons ago, at the World Championships in Beijing in 1961, Ubiraci Rodrigues da Costa, always known as Biriba, beat Rong Guotuan, the reigning World champion; in realistic terms Hugo Calderano has taken playing standards not only in Brazil but also in Latin America to new heights. The same can be argued for Adriana Diaz and Bruna Takahashi; two very special young ladies, who can compete on the global scene, have arrived at the same time.
Moreover, both have enjoyed success this year and can commence proceedings in Buenos Aires with more than a degree of confidence. Earlier this year Bruna Takahashi impressed in London at the Women’s Team World Cup, she finished in third place in the ITTF Pan American Cup in Paraguay, in addition she won the Women’s Singles title at the South American Games in Cochabamba.
Equally, in Santo Domingo, Adriana Diaz added the Pan American Junior Girls’ title the senior crown won one year earlier, before at the Central American and Caribbean Games completing the clean sweep.
However, it is her performance in late August at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Czech Open that is the most relevant. Safely through the qualification stage, she beat Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, Europe’s highest World ranked female player, then she ousted Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm before losing to a third player who was on duty at the recent Uncle Pop ITTF 2018 Women’s World Cup. She was beaten by Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the top seed and champion elect.
Notably Adriana Diaz extended Kasumi Ishikawa to six games (12-14, 11-5, 11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5). Last week, at the quarter-final stage of the recent Uncle Pop ITTF 2018 Women’s World Cup, Kasumi Ishikawa ended the hopes of Miu Hirano in one game less (4-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-6, 11-3).
You must be careful that you do not read too much into results, especially as the Youth Olympic Games is such a special one off event; also there is familiarity in the fact that Miu Hirano is a national team colleague of Kasumi Ishikawa but it does underline the fact that in Buenos Aires, Adriana Diaz, like Bruna Takahashi, need fear no-one.
Miu Hirano is the Women’s Singles top seed but both Adriana Diaz and Bruna Takahashi do have one advantage, they have both savoured the Olympic Games atmosphere; they competed in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.