16 Nov 2023

Paralympic Games gold medallists aiming to make impact on debut.

Over 900 islands, the largest of which is Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands hosts the forthcoming 2023 Oceania Para Championships; staged in Honiara, the capital city, play takes place from Friday 17th to Monday 20th November.

Australian names are to the fore.

Now, over four years since the tournament was last held in Darwin in May 2019, in the women’s singles events, Australia’s Daniela di Toro (class 4) and Melissa Tapper (class 10), defend their titles.

Notably, Melissa Tapper aims for a third consecutive appearance in both the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games; she was present in both disciplines in Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

Similarly, men’s singles gold medallists at the Oceania Para Championships in 2017 when the Fijian capital city of Suva played host, will be on duty. Caleb Crowden (class 4), Trevor Hirth (class 6) and Nathan Pellissier (class 8) all compete in Honiara.

Notable Australian names but the most notable are those on debut. In the men’s singles Ma Lin (class 9) and Samuel von Einem (class 11) appear on the entry list, as in the women’s singles do those of Lei Li Na (class 9) and Yang Qian (class 10).

All have enjoyed outstanding success at the Paralympic Games. Ma Lin struck men’s gold in 2012, Samuel von Einem was a silver medallist in both 2016 and 2020.

Meanwhile, Lei Li Na claimed the top prize in 2008, 2012 and 2020; Yang Qian in 2020.

A most imposing Australian entry, the potential exists to complete the clean sweep as in Darwin.

However, there is worthy opposition. Fiji’s Merewalesi Roden (class 5) presents the greatest challenge to the green and gold. She was the women’s singles class 2-5 gold medallist in Fiji, silver medallist in Darwin.

Also, on duty in the women’s singles from Fiji is Laniana Serukalou (class 7), a silver medallist in 2017 and Akinsini Latu (class 5), a bronze medal winner in Darwin.

Meanwhile, for the men, similarly from Fiji, Iakoba Taubakoa (class 5) competes, he was a silver medallist in both Suva and Darwin.

Names to note, as are those of New Zealand’s James Goulding (class 3) and Tuvalu’s Ioane Hawai (class 5). Both won bronze in Fiji.

Titles await; more over places at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games are on offer.

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