The high point of the year, a fact reflected not only in the quality of the entry but in the high number of titles defended at the forthcoming 2023 ITTF European Para Table Tennis Championships; a six-day tournament, play commences in the English city of Sheffield on Monday 4th September.
In the men’s singles, all 11 gold medallists four years ago in 2019, when the tournament was held in the coastal Swedish city of Helsingborg, are named on the entry list; on the women’s, just three title holders do not return.
Recently retired from international action Sweden’s Anna-Carin Ahlquist (class 3) will not be present, for very different reasons Maliak Alieva (class 6) and Elenas Prokofeva (class 11) do not compete; no Russian players will be on duty in Sheffield.
Notably, following their success in Helsingborg, amongst the men, Fabien Lamirault of France (class 2), Germany’s Valentin Baus (class 5), Belgium’s Laurens Devos (class 9) and Poland’s Patryk Chojnowski (class 10) all progressed to secure gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and at the Andalucia 2022 World Para Championships in Granada.
Similarly, successful in Helsingborg, Turkey’s Ali Ozturk (class 4) struck gold in Tokyo, Germany’s Thomas Schmidberger (class 3) and Ukraine’s Viktor Didukh (class 9) won in Andalucia. Just one step short, Denmark’s Peter Rosenmeier (class 6) was a silver medallist in Tokyo, Jean-Paul Montanus (class 7), the runner up in Andalucia.
Notably, in the final in southern Spain, Jean-Paul Montanus was beaten by Will Bayley, a player on whom British eyes will be heavily focused, as they will be on colleague Rob Davies (class 1), the 2019 winner.
Memorably, both Will Bayley and Rob Davies secured gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, a feat also achieved by Florian Van Acker (class 11); he defends his European title, having four years ago overcome Hungary’s Peter Palos in the final. Later, Peter Palos was to win in Tokyo.
Likewise, in the women’s singles, there is no shortage of players on duty in Sheffield who won gold in Helsingborg and have then secured major titles.
Poland’s Dorota Buclaw (class 1) emerged successful at the Andalucia 2022 World Para Championships as did Italy’s Giada Rossi (class 2), France’s Thu Kamkasomphu (class 8) and Hungary’s Alexa Svitacs (class 9).
Also, gold medallist in Tokyo, Kelly van Zon of the Netherlands (class 7) will be in action, beaten by Turkey’s Kubra Korkut in the Granada final; a repeat meeting in Sheffield could well happen.
All are names to note having enjoyed success since 2019 but none can match Ukraine’s Maryna Lytovchenko (class 6); bronze medallist in Helsingborg, she struck gold in both Tokyo and Granada.
Aiming for higher places, it is the same for Slovakia’s Alena Kanova (class 3), silver medallist in Tokyo; slightly differently for Turkey’s Ebru Acer (class 11), she gained women’s doubles bronze in Tokyo alongside Sumeyra Turk. Pertinently, she is very much the player in form; earlier this year she won in Slovenia, Poland and Thailand.
Also in good form is Alexandra Saint-Pierre of France (class 5) making her European Para Championships debut, crowned World champion in Granada, this year she won in Lignano, New Taipei City and Taichung.
Seeking to maintain present form, defending champions Serbia’s Borislava Peric-Rankovic (class 4) and Serbia’s Natalia Partyka (class 10) will be aiming for a return to 2016 form; both won gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
A total of 191 men and 76 women compete in Sheffield.
- 2023 ITTF European Para Championships – Latest Results
- 2023 ITTF European Para Championships – ITTF YouTube Channel