The Andalucia 2022 World Para Championships now less than two months distant, play commencing in Granada on Sunday 6th November, more recently there was an opportunity for those involved in the organisation of the tournament to take stock and note any item than could add to smooth running of the prestigious global gathering.
Staged in Getafe, a suburb of Madrid, the play took place on Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th September, an event that was more than a tournament in which national champions were crowned.
The key word in the title was “inclusive”; the programme involved Para players lining up alongside able-bodied competitors, the team event very much a pioneering move.
One male or female wheelchair athlete (classes 1-5) plus one male or female standing disabled athlete classes (6-11) lined up alongside one male of female able-bodied player born before 2009.
Furthermore, a foreign player with a disability could be included; additionally, one member of the team had to be female. All Para players had to be already classified.
A fixture comprised a doubles match formed by a wheelchair and able-bodied player, followed by a singles contest between standing Para athletes. Next followed a further singles match involving wheelchair contestants, the fourth match comprised able-bodied players.
The concept is very much in line with the principles of the Sanitas Foundation, the title sponsor, supporting for the second consecutive year. The goal of the organisation is to promote the benefits of inclusive sport; the reasoning being that sport improves the quality of life, helps improve physical and mental health as well as encouraging social interaction.
Most certainly the concept met with universal approval and is a motivating force as Spain looks forward to November.
“We aim to deliver the best World Para Championships ever; it is important that we use this event as a learning opportunity in order that we can achieve the highest standards possible. The level of play in Para table tennis continues to grow, we must do the same as organisers, continually raise standards.” Miguel Angel Machado
Everyone can be confident of such an outcome, currently the World Para Championships entry list reads: 181 men, 147 women, 11 classes in each of the men’s and women’s singles events, five classes in each of the men’s and women’s doubles plus seven in the mixed doubles.
In total that is 328 players competing in 39 events; a prodigious task but no problem at all for Daniel Valero, the Tournament Director. He was very much involved with the organisation of the 2016 World Veteran Championships in Alicante/Elche, an event where “inclusivity” was high on the agenda.
The tournament attracted 4,510 entrants, representing 68 member associations, 44 events, 15,504 matches and a new age group introduced, over 90 years!
Table tennis the sport for all, rang true in Alcante/Elche, now in Madrid, it will be the same in Granada.