08 Nov 2022

In Granada there have been several milestones, one in particular could well have a long lasting effect

Play progresses at the Andalucia 2022 World Para Table Tennis Championships in Granada, each day history is written, happenings take place which take the quadrennial tournament to new heights.

On the evening of Tuesday 8th November, yet another milestone was passed; the first ball was hit in a women’s singles class 1 event.

In all previous editions of the now well established quadrennial event, class 1 and class 2 have been combined.

Poland’s Dorota Buclaw overcame Saudi Arabia’s Maryam Almyrisl (11-6, 11-1, 11-2), Finland’s Aino Tapola accounted for Israel’s Chagit Brill (11-6, 11-3, 11-5).

A new horizon and in particular for Maryam Almyrisl, who despite defeat was most upbeat.

“It’s my first time in a World Championships, my task is to keep practising and improve my level of play; at the beginning of the match, I thought I might have a chance of winning but in the second game Dorota showed her greater experience. You must understand that for me that being here is real progress. Several years ago in Saudi Arabia, women were not allowed to play sport, just stay at home, now times are changing. Playing in this tournament is major progress for Saudi Arabian and Muslim women.” Maryam Almyrisl

Maryam Almyrisl, with no great competitive background, gave her best against a player who has over 20 years’ experience, some 30 medals at international level and in 2019 was crowned European class 1 women’s singles champion.

Time and again Dorota Buclaw has played against opponents of a lesser physical impairment; understandably, she was in no doubt about the value of the event.

“It is very important that this category has been created, being separate from class 2 and not together as before; it’s important that the scales are balanced, there is a notable difference between the classes. I made a good start today but I’m not thinking about a medal, just take one match at a time.” Dorota Buclaw

Similar to Dorota Buclaw, Aino Tapola is an established international player; this year she has more than made her presence felt. In France competing in class 1-2 she was the runner up, in the Czech Republic, she won class 1, one home soil in Finland it was bronze in class 1-5.

For Aino Tapola, the introduction of class 1 is a major motivating force.

“I am really happy we have this category, it’s something myself and other players have been hoping will happen; it is very important for women who have a disability. I think it sets an example to women who think because of their disability they cannot play sport; the class gives an opportunity not only to play sport but also to have the opportunity to compete at a high level.” Aino Tapola

Play in women’s singles class 1 is based on the traditional formula, two groups each with three players, first and second advancing to the semi-finals.

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