by Ian Marshall, Editor
There is an immense sense of pride; some 16 months ago the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria; even the capital, San Juan experienced major cuts, some 100 days without power. Now a showpiece sporting event is about to start.
Proud moments especially for Ivan Santos, the President of the Puerto Rico Table Tennis Federation and Angel Perez, the Mayor of Guaynabo.
“It is an historic occasion, it is a momentous occasion; my congratulations to Ivan Santos. It is an important event for Guaynabo, a big opportunity for the city. Thank you to everyone for all the hard work.” Angel Perez
In addition to live streaming on ITTF.com, the local television station Telemundo will broadcast from 4.00 pm to conclusion on Saturday 2nd February, as well as on Sunday from 11.00 am to 2.30 pm and from 5.00 pm to 9.00 pm; a total of 12 hours live. Furthermore, both men’s and women’s semi-finals and finals will be broadcast live on Sportv in Brazil; whilst the rest of South America can watch the finals of ESPN.
Notably no less than 90 members of the media will be present for what will be a first; not just the first time that Puerto Rico has staged the event; also the first time that ball boys and ball girls have been used in a Pan American tournament.
Impressive numbers and all very much together; it is the sense of unity which strikes; everyone is pulling in the same direction and of course eyes focus heavily on Adriana Diaz, the winner last year at both the Pan American Junior and Pan American Championships.
Whoever you talk to, whether it be the officer at passport control in Miami airport or the local businessman, they know Adriana Diaz but of course she is not alone; elder sister Melanie is also on duty as is her cousin Brian Afanador alongside Daniel Gonzalez in the men’s event.
Notably, for Adriana Diaz, it is her first ever appearance in the tournament; the task to end the hegemony of North America. In the inaugural event in 2017 in San José, Costa Rica, the verdict went in favour of the United States, Lily Zhang emerged the winner. One year later in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, it was Canada’s Zhang Mo who prevailed.
In Guaynabo, Zhang Mo is the top seed; Adriana Diaz is the next name in the order of merit. Lily Zhang is the no.5 seed, one place behind Brazil’s Bruna Takahashi; Wu Yue, also from the United States, is the no.3 seed.
Meanwhile, for Melanie Diaz, Brian Afanador and Daniel Gonzalez, matters commence in the group phase; testing times await but with an adoring crowd, can they raise their game, progress to the main draw.
They will have passionate support and one fact you learn about living in Puerto Rico; they can do nothing quietly!