by Simon Daish
A class 3 athlete, Thomas Schmidberger received his award, presented by Tinsue, following a truly exceptional year at continental and global level.
In action at Para Open events in Italy, Poland and Egypt, Schmidberger not only emerged as the class 3 singles champion at all three competitions but on each occasion also collected team titles. He then followed suit at the 2019 ITTF European Para Championships in Halmstad, earning class 3 singles and team gold.
In October 2019 Schmidberger was rewarded with his place at the top of the class 3 world rankings and now ends the year with another accolade to his name.
“Hey table tennis family. I wanted to thank you for the nomination for the ITTF star award for the para male player of the year. It’s a big honour for me to win this prize. I’m here in my town of sports in Düsseldorf and I have an important training competition already for Tokyo next year; this is the reason why I can’t be with you this evening. I wanted to thank you, have a good evening and goodbye.” Thomas Schmidberger
An honourable mention goes to Great Britain’s Rob Davies (class 1) and China’s Yan Shuo (class 7) who were also nominated for the award.
World no.1 on the women’s class 2 rankings list since October 2019, Giada Rossi’s year has also proved profitable; she has enjoyed title success after title success.
Not only did Rossi secure class 2 gold at the Para Opens in Italy and the Netherlands but also she added the class 1-2 gold medal on offer in the Czech Republic.
However, Rossi’s stand out moment of the year came at the 2019 ITTF European Para Championships, winning the class 2 singles trophy, whilst also collecting class 1-3 team bronze in Halmstad.
“Thank you very much. I’m very happy and honoured to be here and I would like to thank my family for always being by my side and for supporting me in my dreams. I want to dedicate this important award to my coaches for the work that we do together everyday and for supporting me and for helping and motivating me to always do my best. So, thank you very much because I’m very happy and proud to be here.” Giada Rossi
The other players who received nominations for the award were Chile’s Tamara Leonelli (class 5) and China’s Wang Rui (class 7).