by Simon Daish
Brazil a step ahead
Despite facing stiff opposition from the continent’s biggest stars Brazil leads the way in Latin America, a statement they backed up with two gold medal finishes in Lima.
Opening with 3-0 victories over Peru and Chile, the men’s team title was secured after Hugo Calderano, Gustavo Tsuboi and Vitor Ishiy combined to beat Argentina 3-2. Brazil’s women’s team campaign started in similar vein with convincing outings against Chile and Peru before capping off their journey with a perfect record, as Bruna Takahashi, Caroline Kumahara and Jessica Yamada powered past exciting young rivals Puerto Rico 3-0 to avenge their 2019 Pan American Games defeat.
Alto and Cifuentes make for a formidable pair
Gaston Alto and Horacio Cifuentes once again proved themselves a powerful doubles pair. Only three games were required for Alto and Cifuentes to see off Peru’s Adolfo Cucho and Felipe Duffoo (11-6, 11-4, 11-4), but it was Argentina’s meeting with Brazil that really caught the eye as Vitor Ishiy and Gustavo Tsuboi lost out 2-3 to the exciting partnership (11-6, 16-18, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5).
This isn’t the first time Alto and Cifuentes have shone on the big stage having won gold together at the 2019 ITTF Pan American Championships and more recently the 2019 ITTF Challenge Polish Open.
Persistence does pay off
Jessica Yamada, unfortunate to miss out on selection for London 2012 having won the Latin American Championships staged immediately following the Latin American Olympic Games qualification tournament; an absence from the national team, returning 2018, her positive attitude, was rewarded.
She was pivotal to Brazil’s success in Lima, the dreams are now turning to reality.
Closing in but room for improvement remains for Puerto Rico
There was a suggestion two months ago that a shift in power balance on the Latin American scene was beginning to take shape following Puerto Rico’s astonishing title victory at the 2019 Pan American Games in early August.
Three months later, Brazil extracted revenge; this time out in Lima, Brazil sent a clear statement that they are still the team to beat on the continental stage with a powerful 3-0 result. A setback for the young Puerto Rican stars but plenty to be optimistic about in the years ahead.
Time for a refresh?
Despite 3-0 victories over Peru in both the men’s and women’s team events, for Chile the 2019 ITTF Latin American Team Qualification event proved to be something of a mixed bag with third position finishes in both categories.
There were signs of encouragement thanks to the efforts of young stars Nicolas Burgos and Valentina Rios, both 17 years old. They were the bright sparks for Chile. Is it the country’s talented youth that presents the best path moving forwards for Chile?