by Simon Daish
Five gold medals went in the direction of Puerto Rico at this month’s Pan American Games in Lima, Peru; most significantly, three were won by their table tennis players. Sisters Adriana and Melanie Diaz alongside Daniely Rios were the players to deliver the goods.
The first moment of success came in the women’s doubles courtesy of the Diaz sisters, as Adriana and Melanie combined to lead Puerto Rico to its first ever table tennis gold medal finish at the Pan American Games. It was soon followed by another as Adriana Diaz toppled defending women’s singles champion Wu Yue to add a second gold to the collection; a third was still on the way.
At the final hurdle of the women’s team competition the trio of Adriana Diaz, Melanie Diaz and Daniely Rios defied the odds to defeat Brazil in a 3-2 epic with a standout effort from Melanie proving decisive. You can read all about the dramatic final here as well as how the trio’s efforts have attracted the praise of Puerto Rico’s most famous pop stars!
The three Puerto Rican stars, who all hail from Utuado, will be present in Olomouc. Adriana Diaz is seeded for the women’s singles draw while Melanie Daz and Daniely Rios attempt to reserve their places at the upcoming 2019 ITTF World Tour Czech Open via qualification.
Seeded 15th and leading the charge for her country, Adriana Diaz is assured of her spot in the main event.
Hopes are high for the 18 year old player and why shouldn’t they be? Adriana has a catalogue of vast experience on the global scene and has enjoyed successful trips to Olomouc before: in 2017 she took home silverware from the under 21 women’s singles event and last year she was amongst the list of quarter-finalists in the senior category – does another fruitful outing on Czech soil await?
For Adriana’s sister Melanie the quest begins in the two-day qualification tournament with her first potential threat coming from Japan’s Mitsuho Kimura, whose standout accolade of the year so far was a quarter-finals finish at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Thailand Open.
Daniely Rios has a difficult task ahead of her in Olomouc as she opens her account in opposition to Korea Republic’s Lee Zion, an exciting player who possesses a very capable attacking game. Rest assured Rios will give it her all and, with confidence on her side, victory isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.
Away from the singles action Adriana and Melanie Diaz will also represent Puerto Rico in the women’s doubles event in which they are seeded seventh. It is another opportunity to show off their talents, one thing you can be certain of is that the Diaz sisters will be a mighty threat to anyone standing in their way.
Regardless of what happens over the next few days the trio can all bask in their recent Pan American Games glory but what better way to back it up than with another impressive outing on the international stage?