05 Jun 2019

Led by the irrepressible Rungroj Thainiyom, who after winning gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, shaved off his hair and stood proudly with a framed photograph of his king, Thailand leads the challenge for honours at the forthcoming 2019 Para Copa Christina Hoffmann Open.

Staged in the Mexican resort of Cancun, play in the three day tournament commences on Wednesday 5th June.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Competing in class 6, Rungroj Thainiyom is the most celebrated name amongst the Thai visitors but he is not alone in terms of his country’s quality; in the men’s singles events Yuttajak Glinbanchuen, Anurak Laowong and Wanchai Chaiwut, alongside Maitree Kongruang all compete in the wheelchair classes.

Meanwhile, in addition to Rungroj Thainiyom, Charlermpong Punpoo is also on duty in the standing competitions.

All have enjoyed international success. Last December competing on home soil in Chiang Mai at the 2018 Para Thailand Open Yuttajak Glinbanchuen beat Anurak Laowong in the class 3 final. Likewise earlier this year there was also gold for Wanchai Chaiwut, he won class 4 at the Lignano Masters in northern Italy. Additionally, Maitree Kongruang enjoyed success in 2017 in Taichung, he was a bronze medallist in class 5; not to be upstaged, last year in class 7 at the Asian Para Championships it was silver for Charlermpong Punpoo.

Notable names from Thailand, there are also notable male names from other foreign shores.

Gold medallist in class 7 at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, Frenchman Stéphane Messi competes, as does Japan’s Koyo Iwabuchi, the class 9 bronze medallist at the 2018 World Para Championships. Similarly, in class 6 the Chilean names of Matias Pino and Cristian Dettoni appear; at the 2015 Para Pan American Games and at the 2017 Para Pan American Championships, Matias Pino won gold, Cristian Dettoni silver.

A major challenge from abroad, there are also prominent names from the host nation; Edith Sigala and Martha Verdin compete in the women’s singles events, Victor Reyes is on men’s singles duty. Similar to Matias Pino, competing in class 3, Edith Sigala won gold at the 2015 Para Pan American Games, the same at the 2017 Para Pan American Championships.

In a similar vein at the 2017 Para Pan American Championships Martha Verdin secured class 4 gold, Vitor Reyes, class 2 gold.

Overall a total of 77 men and 17 women will compete in Cancun.

2019 Para Copa Christina Hoffmann Open: Draw for individual events (Wednesday 5th June)

Paralympics Para Table Tennis 2019 Copa Cristina Foffmann Rungroj Thainiyom

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