by Ian Marshall, Editor
Furthermore, there is another common factor; five champions return, all seeking for repeat success.
In 2009, in the men’s singles events, Norway’s Tommy Urhaug won class 5 and the open wheelchair class, the Slovak Republic’s Peter Mihalik emerged victorious in class 4, Romania’s Bobi Simion secured class 6 gold. Likewise the host nation’s Piotr Grudzien emerged the class 8 champion; all appear on this year’s entry list.
Similarly, in the women’s singles events, the names of Sweden’s Ingela Lundbäck and Poland’s Malgorzata Jankowska compete. In 2009, Ingela Lundbäck secured the class 4-5 and open wheelchair titles, Malgorzata Jankowska succeeded in class 9-10.
Names to note and for the host nation there are three names in particular, not present a decade ago that catch the eye.
Notably, in the men’s singles events, winner earlier this year at the Lignano Masters in northern Italy, a class 2 athlete, Rafal Czuper is on duty, as in class 10 is Patryk Chojnowski, the London 2012 Paralympic Games gold medallist and the current World champion.
“I am already an experienced player, so I do not have much stage fright but I feel pressure that I may put on myself unnecessarily. Though first of all I want to enjoy my game. The entry in Wladyslawowo is sensational. I’m doubly motivated to win my homeland. In 2009, I was not in the national para team, so I did not have the opportunity to play.” Rafal Czuper
Meanwhile, for women, in class 9, the name of Karolina Pek appears, gold medallist alongside colleague Natalia Partyka in the class 6-10 team event in Rio de Janeiro.
” I am seeded number one, so the goal is to win the tournament in singles, as well as in the team with Małgorzata Jankowska. First of all, I would like play a good game, because it is the last such competition before the September European Championships. My form could be a little better. Recently I struggled with an injury of the adductor muscle for several weeks”. Karolina Pek
Positive but Rafal Czuper faces a most difficult task if he is to claim gold, in the same class appears the name of Frenchman, Fabien Lamirault, gold medallist at the Rio Paralympic Games and the reigning World champion.
“We played a dozen or so times, unfortunately, he was always on top. I believe that I can win against him in Wladyslawowo. I will direct all my efforts to the men’s singles and not play in team event.” Rafal Czuper.
A severe test ahead for Rafal Czuper, for Patryk Chojnowski, on duty in April at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships, he is the clear favourite.
“I won at the Paralympic Games in London, I won at the World and European Championships, if nothing bad happens to my health, I think I can handle Para Polish Open ” Patryk Chojnowski
Add Karolina Pek, gold medallist at the Lignano Masters earlier this year, under the guidance of Andrzej Ochal, the head coach, Poland is very much in line for honours.
“Our team consists of almost 30 players; we have a very strong team. Looking objectively, over half of our players and competitors can stand on the podium.” Andrzej Ochal
Titles for Poland, it may well happen; one fact is certain, nine classes in the women’s singles, class 1-2 and class 7-8 being combined, all 11 for the men, three days of intense competition await.
2019 Para Polish Open: Latest results and main draws