Careers for every athlete in whatever sport come to an end; for one player at the current Andalucia 2022 World Para Championships, win or lose, the career has come to perfect end.
On Saturday 12th November, it will be the day when Miguel Rodriguez officially retires from the competitive scene; most significantly it will be in his home town of Granada.
“I’ve played table tennis for 30 years, I could never have imagined such a setting for Para table tennis; for me in my hometown, in the best ever tournament, there could not possibly have been a better place to finish. My family is here, they are all supporting me, it’s very, very special”, Miguel Rodriguez
Looking wistfully, for 53-year-old, there was more than a hint of emotion as he reminisced.
“Table tennis has been my life, it will be a big change for me, it’s going to be difficult; I’ll miss the friendship, the atmosphere, the travel, everything.” Miguel Rodriguez
Make no mistake, the atmosphere in a Para tournament has to be witnessed; in Andalucia from the moment the first ball was hit in anger on the opening morning of play, there was unbridled cheering and clapping, team spirit at the highest level.
“Now older, I’m not as motivated as in the past, I don’t want to practise every day; that means it is time to stop. The standard of play rises every year, everything is more professional, if you want to be in the top ten you must practise every day.” Miguel Rodriguez
The time has come but the man from Granada harbours precious memories.
“Without doubt playing my first Paralympic Games in 2000 in Sydney stands out in my mind, as does London in 2012 and Rio in 2016, on both those occasions, Asun, my daughter was present. In Rio she was holding the Spanish flag, shouting “papa, papa, papa”, it so special for me, the perfect moment.”
A long and distinguished career, the first international medal of note being at the 1998 International Masters in Italy when winning men’s team class 3 bronze; the most recent at the 2020 Egypt Para Open, the same colour in men’s team class 4-5.
Overall the tally approaches some 70 medals on the international scene; a record of which Miguel Rodriguez and the city of Granada can be justly proud.