by Simon Daish
Securing Brazil’s highest honour last time out in Rio was Israel Pereira Stroh, rewarded for an excellent campaign with a notable silver medal finish in the men’s singles class 7 event.
A journey no doubt reflected upon with fond memories, but not one without its frustrations following Stroh’s loss to Will Bayley at the final hurdle, having bested the Brit in the group phase of the competition. So close to the ultimate outcome in 2016 – will 2021 be Stroh’s year?
The country’s top performing player in the women’s singles categories was Bruna Costa Alexandre, who successfully brought home class 10 bronze aged just 21 at the time.
Bruna Alexandre improved upon her previous Paralympic showing, putting her London 2012 group exit behind her with a top three finish at Rio 2016. The 25-year-old will be eyeing up a higher step on the podium next year in the Japanese capital having come mightily close to a spot in the final in Rio de Janeiro.
Another player hoping to lead Brazil to Paralympic glory in Tokyo is Paulo Salmin. Three-time winner of the men’s singles class 7 title at the Para Pan American Championships, Salmin also has a Para Pan American Games singles gold medal to his name in addition to playing his part in successful team campaigns at both continental tournaments.
Eliminated in the group phase at Rio 2016, Salmin’s first goal will be to avoid the same fate in Tokyo – he will have confidence on his side following a fruitful year on the international stage in 2019 with medal finishes in Lignano, Girona and Lasko. Paulo Salmin and Israel Stroh are also well placed for a medal finish in the men’s team class 6-7 event – a powerful combination, the duo could be serious candidates for gold!
Joyce de Oliveira
One of the world’s top class 4 wheelchair stars, Joyce de Oliveira will be a player on a mission at the upcoming Paralympic Games as she looks for her first singles win at the event.
At continental level de Oliveria has amassed an impressive collection of silverware with singles and team gold medals at the Para Pan American Championships and Games. The 30-year-old has also been a regular fixture in the World top 10 over the past decade and will be keen to demonstrate her prowess on the globe’s biggest stage.
Brazil’s hope in the women’s singles class 2 competition lies with Catia Oliveira – a safe pair of hands and a player who knows she can mix it with the very best.
Two years back at the 2018 ITTF World Para Championships in Lasko-Celje, Oliveira stunned two of the sport’s biggest stars in Giadi Rossi and Nadejda Pushpasheva to take home silver! A huge confidence boost for da Silva Oliveira who must surely fancy her chances of replicating, or even bettering her incredible achievement at next year’s Games.
Who else is heading to Tokyo?
Five further players will fly the Brazilian flag at Tokyo 2020 as the country searches for its first Paralympic table tennis gold medal.
On the men’s side, Welder Knaf (class 3), Luiz Guarnieri (class 8) and Carlos Alberto Carbinatti Junior (class 10) have all sealed their ticket to Tokyo while Lethicia Lacerda (class 8) and Danielle Rauen (class 9) have qualified for the women’s roster.