18 Jan 2024

The year of the Paralympic Games, the buildup starts in Fort Worth.

Improving and consolidating positions on the World rankings to reserve places in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games is a prime factor for those travelling to Corpus Christi; the three-day United States Para Open commences on Tuesday 16th January.

On the World rankings issued on Monday 1st April, the leading names, not having already qualified as a result of winning their respective classes in last year’s continental tournaments, will gain Paris places by virtue of their status, a total of 71 men and 24 women will be bound for the French capital city.

The number may appear high, the reality is rather different. There are 11 classes for men, 10 for women (class 1 & class 2 combined), a predetermined quota per class being applied.

In Corpus Christi for the host nation’s Jenson van Emburgh and Tal Leibovitz, Thailand’s Rungroj Thainiyom and Chinese Taipei’s Lin Tzu-Yu in addition to New Zealand’s Matthew Britz, the situation is less intense; ranking is always an important factor but whatever the outcome in Corpus Christi, they are Paris bound.

Jenson van Emburgh and Tal Leibovitz secured their places courtesy of success at the 2023 Pan American Games; Jenson van Emburgh won men’s singles class 3, Tal Leibovitz secured the men’s singles class 9 title.

Similarly, at the Asian Para Games, Rungroj Thainiyom prevailed in men’s singles class 6, Lin Tzu-Yu in women’s singles 10. Following suit, Matthew Britz succeeded in men’s singles class 6-7 at the Oceania Para Championships.

Conversely, for six players who have Paralympic Games singles medals in their locker, performances in Corpus Christi may well prove vital to aspirations.

Three years ago in Tokyo, Great Britain’s Jack Hunter-Spivey, bronze medallist in men’s singles class 5 competes, as does Chinese Taipei’s Tian Shiau-Wen, likewise she gained bronze in women’s singles class 10.

Also successful in Tokyo, Korea Republic’s Nam Kiwon, a silver medallist in men’s singles class 2 will be in action, a player who the following year at the Andalucia 2022 World Championships underlined his liking for the big time. He struck gold.

Meanwhile, earlier in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, it was bronze for Austria’s Krisztian Gardos in men’s singles class 10.

Turning the clock even further back, in 2004 in Athens, Frenchman Stéphane Messi won men’s singles class 7 gold, Slovakia’s Jan Riapos prevailed in men’s singles class 2. Later in 2012 in London, Riapos repeated the feat.

Equally names prominent in recent years will be seeking honours in Corpus Christi and aiming for Paris places.

In men’s singles class 9, Japan’s Koyo Iwabuchi and Great Britain’s Josh Stacey compete. Both have silver medals from major tournaments; Iwabuchi at the 2023 Asian Para Games, Stacey at the Andalucia 2022 World Para Championships.

Likewise, Korea Republic’s Park Jincheol makes the journey to Corpus Christi; at the 2023 Asian Para Games he won men’s singles class 2.

Not to be overlooked, in the women’s singles events, Chinese Taipei’s Tian Shiau-Wen plies her skills, she was a silver medallist at the 2023 Asian Para Games, beaten by colleague Lin Tzu-Yu in the class 10 final.

Overall, at the United States Para Open, 89 men and 18 women compete representing 21 member associations.

The men’s singles and women’s singles events commence play.

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