by Ian Marshall & Kabir Nagpal
Notably the tournament followed the hosting of the 2006 Latin American Championships in Medellin; very much a city that welcomes major events. They were one of the bid cities for the 2022 Youth Olympic Games.
Major tournaments in focus but when players are the focal point, the names to note are Paula Medina and Lady Ruano. They are the only players from Colombia to compete in the table tennis events at the Olympic Games.
Playing in the women’s singles, Paula Medina featured in 2008 in Beijing and in 2012 in London.
Lady Ruano took the Colombian flag front and centre in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, having competed in the Women’s World Cup in the same year. Notably, Lady Ruano is the only player from Colombia to qualify for the Women’s World Cup; no male player from Colombia has ever been presemt at a Men’s World Cup.
The successes of Medina go as far back as the start of this decade in Xalapa, where with Natalia Bedoya, Lady Ruano and Angie Umbacia in support, Medina was crucial to Colombia’s silver medal success in the women’s team event at the XVIIII Central American and Caribbean Games.
Throughout the years, Medina has proven herself to be a pivotal figure for the sport in Colombia, her exploits on home soil in Barranquilla, are often recited to remind opponents of her quality. The records extend beyond the Central American Games. She won bronze at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, and the back to back bronze medals at the 2011 and 2012 Latin American Cup.
Latin American Championships
Notably at the Latin American Championships, Colombian medal success starts with 1980 edition. On that occasion Yubelis Garcia secured women’s singles bronze and the same colour medal partnering Claudia Garcia in the women’s doubles.
Later in 1989 Diana Casas and Elena Vargas emerged women’s doubles semi-finalists, before in 1989 Victor Suaza and Diana Casas claimed mixed doubles bronze. It was the most successful year in the history of the tournament for Colombia; in addition thet were both men’s and women’s team bronze medallists.
Somewhat similarly in 2003, Lady Ruano and Diana Casas claimed women’s doubles silver, before in 2008 Paula Medina guided Colombia to women’s team bronze prior to reaching the penultimate round in the women’s singles.
More recently, Maria Perdomo and Cory Tellez emerged women’s doubles bronze medallists at 2019 Latin American Championships in Guatemala City.
Now for the future, eyes focus on Felipe Fajardo, Alex Otalvaro and Juliana Lozada. At the 2019 South American Junior and Cadet Championships in Santiago, Felipe Fajardo reached the cadet boys’ singles quarter-finals; Juliana Lozada the same round in the counterpart cadet girls’ singles. Meanwhile, at the 2019 Latin American Cadet Championships, Alex Otalvaro advanced to the last eight of the boys’ singles.
A further name to note is Alexander Echevarria, in 2019 he was a men’s singles quarter-finalist at the Latin American Championships.
The question posed, can the new generation lift Colombia, never gold medallist at the Latin American Championships, to new heights?