12 Dec 2021

Silver medallist two years ago when beaten in the final by Sweden’s Linus Karlsson, for the host nation’s Steven Roman, on Saturday 11th December at the ITTF Para Copa Costa Rica Bicentenario 2021, it was gold.

The 19 year old won men’s singles class 8.

by Ian Marshall

Occupying the top seeded position, he beat Marco Makkar of the United States (11-3, 11-4, 9-11, 11-3), to claim gold, an adversary who was no stranger; the previous day they had met in the initial group phase, Steven Roman prevailing in a similar manner (11-6, 11-4, 8-11, 13-11).

Success for the highest rated, it was the same in men’s singles class 10; at the final hurdle, Chile’s Manuel Echaveguren, the top seed, overcame El Salvador’s Melvin Muñoz (11-7, 11-6, 11-5).

Top seeds prevail

Likewise in the women’s singles competition, the top seeds prevailed.

In a group organised class 3-5 event, Colombia’s Nelly Sanchez finished ahead of Cynthia Ranii from the United States; in class 8-10, Russia’s Anastasia Kostenevich accounted Jessica Alzate, like Nelly Sanchez from Colombia to seal the title (11-4, 11-8, 11-5).

Anastasia Kostenevich, women’s singles class 8-10 winner (Photo: Joseph Gil Brooks)


Minor surprises

Otherwise, to some extent unexpected names claimed gold.

Minor surprises, in the men’s singles competition, both occupying the no.2 seeded spot, Chile’s Maximiliano and Great Britain’s Daniel Bullen claimed gold; a feat also achieved by Chile’s Ignacio Torres, who reserved the no.3 seeded position.

All Chilean finals, in class 4 Maximiliano Rodriguez beat Cristian Gonzalez, the top seed (5-11, 12-10, 13-11, 11-1); in class 6-7 Ignacio Torres, after accounting for Colombia’s José Vargas, the no.2 seed (9-11, 13-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7) secured the top prize at the expense of Matias Pino, the top seed (11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5).

Good form from the Chileans; it was the same from Daniel Bullen; in a group organised class 5 event, he beat Ahad Sarand of the United States (10-12, 7-11, 12-10, 11-8, 13-11) to complete the event unbeaten.

“I played well. I’m more pleased with my final match because last time I played him it went to five sets and I lost. I feel like I played the way I’ve been playing in training, the hard work is paying off. It feels absolutely amazing to win my first gold medal and there is a lot of emotion for me because I’ve worked so hard and to finally win a gold medal means the world to me. I’m happy with how I turned it around in the last match and I’d like to say thank you to my team mates here who supported me and got me across the line especially when I went 2-0 down. Tthey got behind me and helped me to focus and to win the match. I’d also like to thank Matt Kenny for coaching me here and all the coaches that work with me back home.” Daniel Bullen

Ahad Sarand, the men’s singles class 5 runner up (Photo: Joseph Gill Brooks)


Unexpected outcomes

Somewhat different, not amongst the leading names, in the men’s singles, Chile’s Vicente Leiva claimed the class 1-3 title, Colombia’s Julian Chinchilla emerged victorious in class 9.

At the final hurdle, Vicente Leiva beat Costa Rica’s Geovanni Rodriguez (11-4, 11-7, 12-10). Earlier, at semi-final stage Geovanni Rodriguez, had accounted for Great Britain’s Rob Davies, the top seed and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games gold medallist.

“I’m obviously disappointed with losing as it is never nice to have a loss, but I’ve got to keep in mind why I came out here in the first place, just to get back into competition again. I think I achieved what I wanted it to do. The loss will just make me hungry and I can’t wait to get back and start working on what I need to. We’ve got a good stretch now leading up to the World Championships next year and I’m looking forward to challenging myself and seeing if I can get back to where I was before.” Rob Davies

However, the win cannot be considered a major upset, Rob Davies is a class 1 athlete, Geovanni Rodriguez is class 3; there is a substantial difference in the degree of physical impairment.

Vicente Leiva, the siomewhat surprise men’s singles class 1-3 winner (Photo: Joseph Gil Brooks)


Repeat success

A worthy effort from Vicente Leiva; it was the same from Julian Chinchilla; as with Steven Roman a repeat success.

On the opening day of play in the group phase he overcame Puerto Rica’s Shaquille Rivera in one of the closest matches in the whole tournament (9-11, 8-11, 12-10, 12-10, 12-10), before rather less dramatically repeating the performance in the final (9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 12-10).

The team competition now follows, play concludes in San José on Sunday 12th December.

Julian Chinchilla, the men’s singles class 9 winner (Photo: Joseph Gill Brooks)


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