13 Apr 2021

Three places available for Tokyo 2020, the name at the top of the list in the women’s singles event at the forthcoming 2021 Latin American Singles and Mixed Doubles Qualification tournament, which starts in Rosario, Argentina, on Tuesday 13th April, is that of Puerto Rico’s Melanie Diaz.

by Ian Marshall

Not only is the 24-year-old from Utuado, where you take a boat to visit the local restaurant, seeking to make her debut in the prestigious multi-sport gathering, she is also aiming to create history.

At the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, younger sister Adriana Diaz reserved her place in Tokyo, courtesy of securing the women’s singles title; ever since table tennis was first included in the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988, no sisters have ever both competed in the women’s singles event or have been on duty in the same Games!

The nearest is Amelie and Petrissa Solja. Representing Austria, Amelie played in the women’s team event in 2012 in London but did not compete in the singles; four years later in action for Germany in Rio de Janeiro, Petrissa Solja played in both the women’s singles and women’s team events.

Earlier in 1996 in Atlanta and 2000 in Sydney, Äsa Svensson and Marie Svensson confused many onlookers and journalists; they are not sisters! There are a few hundred sons of Sven in Sweden.

Seeking a first appearance, for three players in women’s singles action in Rosario, the goal is to make a return to the amphitheatre. Mexico’s Yadira Silva, the no.5 seed is looking to make it four in a row, she made her debut in 2008 in Beijing and has been present in the women’s singles event ever since that date.

A fourth excursion, for Chile’s Paulina Vega, the no.2 seed, and Colombia’s Paula Medina, the no.9 seed, they have eyes on a second career appearance. Paulina Vega partnered Berta Rodriguez in the women’s doubles in 2004 in Athens; Paula Medina competed in the women’s singles eight years later in London.

Meanwhile, for the remaining principal names, like Melanie Diaz, the goal is the make their debut.

Like Pauline Vega from Chile, Daniela Ortega, the winner of both the women’s singles and under 21 women’s singles events at the 2017 South American Championships in Buenos Aires, is very much a name to note, as are the host nation’s Camila Arguelles and Candela Molero.

No doubt delighted to be playing on home soil but both Argentines have a liking for the opposite coast. At the 2015 ITTF World Tour Chile Open, Camila Arguelles was a women’s singles quarter-finalist, Candela Molero, an under 21 women’s singles runner up in 2017.

Immediately above Candela Molero on the seeding, the names of Guatemala’s Mabelyn Enriquez and the Dominican Republic’s Eva Brito appear; both players who have enjoyed success in their regions of Latin America. In 2017, Mabelyn Enriquez was the runner up at the Central American Games in Managua, before at the Central American Championships in 2018 in San Salvador and the following year on home turf, experiencing the same fate.

Somewhat similarly, at the Caribbean Senior Championships, Eva Brito won in 2016 in the Dominican Republic, prior to being the runner up in 2017 in Havana and again in 2018 in Jamaica.

Play will be organised in two consecutive knock-out events; the finalists in the first qualify for Tokyo, the second only the winner.

General News Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Paulina Vega Melanie Diaz Yadira Silva Paula Medina Eva Brito Camila Arguelles Daniela Ortega Mabelyn Enriquez Candela Molero

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