03 Nov 2022

Aiming for more success in the men’s singles standing classes, endurance prominent

Longevity, owners of incredible record in sports; they are few and far between but one player who fits the bill is Alvaro Valera, the man on whom local eyes in particular will be focused at the Andalucia 2022 World Para Table Tennis Championships.

Born in Seville, now resident in Madrid, on Monday 1st January 2011, he rose to the pinnacle of the men’s class 7 listings, later in the year in October, when adjusted to class 6, he continued at the top of the order.

On Sunday 6th November when the first ball is hit in anger in Granada, he will have held the coveted position, without a break, for no less than 4,321 days.

Add the two months in 1999 and the eight months in 2001 when he topped class 8, plus the seven months in 2009 when at the helm in class 7, the overall total will be 5,210 days and still counting!

A distinguished record, one which dates back to April 1999 when he won men’s singles class 8 at the Czech Para Open. One year later, only days after his 18th birthday, he struck gold at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, the man guiding his fortunes a certain Raul Calin, now ITTF Secretary-General.

Gold at the Paralympic Games, the record reads the same at the World Para Championships; in 2010 in Beijing, the top step of the podium was reserved.

Throughout, the great rival has been Denmark’s Peter Rosemeier; both appear on the men’s singles class 6 entry list in Granada. Likewise, the Dane possesses a most imposing record. At the Paralympic Games he won gold in 2008 in Beijing and 2016 in Tokyo; at World Para Championships, he prevailed in 2010 in Gwangju and 2018 in Lasko.

Now, include in the same class, Thailand’s Rungroj Thainiyom who won gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and Ian Seidenfeld from the United States, the winner just over one year ago in Tokyo when beaten Peter Rosenmeier in the final, an intriguing event awaits.

Endurance, long careers, there must be something in the Spanish air, competing in Granada, José Manuel Ruiz, is the player with the greatest longevity of success. He is the only player on duty to have secured a medal at a World Para Championships in the 20th century. In 1998 he won bronze in Paris. A class 10 player, later he struck gold in 2010 in Gwangju.

Repeating the Gwangju success in Granada will be a redoubtable task; Poland’s Patryk Chojnowski, gold medallists at the Paralympic Games in London and Tokyo, aims to make it three in row. He won in Beijing in Lasko.

Spanish hopes high, one more can be added to the list, Jordi Morales, the erstwhile partner of Alvaro Valera, he defends the men’s singles class 7 crown won four years ago in Lasko.

However, to retain the title, the Spaniard faces stiff opposition. In the same class appear the names of Great Britain’s Will Bayley and Frenchman Stéphane Messi. Will Bayley claimed gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and at the 2014 World Para Championships in Beijing.  Stéphane Messi emerged victorious at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.

Meanwhile, aiming to retain the title won eight years ago is the task for Will Bayley, for colleague Ross Wilson, the goal is retention. He won class 8 gold in 2018 in Lasko and could well meet the player who succeeded in 2014 in Beijing; Ukraine’s Viktor Didukh also appears on the Anadlucia entry list.

Somewhat differently, in men’s singles class 9, Belgium’s Laurens Devos is very much the name to note. Gold medallist at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo, he is the defending champion.

Also on duty in the same class is Australia’s Ma Lin, the winner at the 2006 World Para Championships in Montreux, later he claimed gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Favourites for medals but note one name that may upset the order. Earlier this year Great Britain’s Josh Stacey prevailed in March in Platja d’Aro and then in August at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. In the former he beat Ma Lin in the semi-finals, in the latter in the final.

Most worthy names on view, it is no different in men’s singles class 11; the most prominent names being those of Hungary’s Peter Palos and Belgium’s Florian Van Acker. Peter Palos won gold at the Paralympic Games in London and Tokyo; in Rio de Janeiro, it was the same outcome for Florian Van Acker. In Granada, Florian Van Acker is the defending champion.

A total of 103 players compete in the men’s singles standing classes, of that number 36 have won medals at either the Paralympic Games or World Para Championships.

Competing in Granada


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