by Ian Marshall, Editor
Reigning European champions Frenchman Maxime Thomas (class 4) and Ukraine’s Viktor Didukh (class 8) appear in the men’s events, as does Norway’s Aida Dahlen (class 8) alongside Russia’s Victoriya Safonova (class 7) and Natalya Kosmina (class 11) in the women’s competitions.
Similarly, in the men’s listings gold medallist at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Great Britain’s Will Bayley (class 7) competes as does his colleague, Ross Wilson (class 8), the reigning World and Commonwealth Games champion.
Meanwhile, the names of current World champions, Ukraine’s Maryna Lytovchenko (class 6) and Russia’s Elena Prokofeva (class 11) appear on the entry list. Worthy competitors but the outstanding European name is that of Kelly Van Zon (class 7) from the Netherlands; in addition to a host of international titles she is twice Paralympic Games gold medallist, three times World champion, three times European champion.
The reason is threefold; there is the tournament itself, adding more medals to the collection is a goal for every athlete in whatever the sport.
However, there is more to the equation; the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games is the carrot. Sampling the atmosphere of the Japanese capital city, a culture different to the old continent, for many it is a first visit to the Land of the Rising Sun, a nation where good manners and respect are part of national culture.
Two reasons a third is very much down to earth, witnessed wherever international competition is played, it is ranking points. The Para World Rankings relevant in March 2020 are one factor that determines places in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games; the 2019 Para Japan Open is more than just another tournament.
A busy schedule ahead, in the women’s singles eight events will be staged, there is no class 1, class 2-3 are combined; in the men’s singles competitions, 10 events present the schedule, the only combined category is class 1-2.
2019 Para Japan Open: Draws and Latest Results