30 Apr 2024

Prominent names honing skills for Paralympic Games.

Reigning champions, winners of the most celebrated tournaments the sport has to offer, Australia’s Yang Qiang, alongside Germany’s Valentin Baus and Belgium’s Laurens Devos spearhead a high-class entry for the 2024 ITTF Montenegro Para Open.

A four-day tournament, play commences in the country’s capital city of Podgorica on Wednesday 1st May.

All enjoyed success at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the same two years later at the Andalucia 2022 World Para Championships, Valentin Baus in men’s singles class 5, Laurens Devos in men’s singles class 9, Yang Qian in women’s singles class 10.

More recently in 2023, Valentin Baus and Laurens Devos struck gold at the European Para Championships, Yang Qian at the Oceania Para Championships.

Similarly, the names of Lei Lina and Ma Lin appear on the Australian list.

Commencing in 2002, on three occasions, Lei Lina has struck gold in women’s singles class 9 at both the World Para Championships and Paralympic Games; from the same year, on duty in men’s singles class 9, Ma Lin has been crowned World champion three times, gold medallist once, the occasion the Paralympic Games in 2012.

Success at the highest level, competing at as an independent athlete, in women’s singles class 11, Elena Prokofeva has all three to her name. She won gold the 2018 World Para Championships, one year later repeated the feat at the European Para Championships before emerging the winner at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Adding to the list, the name of Korea Republic’s Joo Youngdae appears; the men’s singles class 1 winner in Tokyo and last year at the Asian Games. Additionally at the 2022 World Championships, he concluded matters a silver medallist.

Imposing names, turning back the clock, Tahl Leibovoitz, who won men’s singles class 7 at the 1996 Paralympic Games, competes as does Slovakia’s Jan Riapos, Norway’s Tommy Urhaug and Frenchman Stéphane Messi.

Present in men’s singles class 2, Jan Riapos struck gold at the 2004 and 2012 Paralympic Games. In 2004 Stéphane Messi won men’s singles class 7, in 2012 Tommy Urhaug secured the men’s singles class 5 title.

Furthermore, Tommy Urhaug is currently in good form; earlier this year, he won in both Astana and Poland.

Gold in Poland for Tommy Urhaug, it was the same for Croatia’s Andela Muzinic Vincetic, successful one year ago in women’s singles class 3, she defends her title in Podgorica.

Also, in good form and on duty in Montenegro appear the names of Chile’s Luis Bustamente, Jenson van Emburgh of the United States and Germany’s Sandra Mikolaschek.

All have made fine starts to the year, Luis Bustamente won men’s singles class 2 in both Brazil and Kazakhstan, Jenson van Emburgh prevailed in men’s singles class 3 in the United States and in Costa Rica, Sandra Mikolaschek, a class 4 athlete, secured women’s singles titles in Egypt, Italy and Poland.

Notable names from foreign shores, for the host nation, eyes focus on Flip Radovic, men’s singles bronze medallist at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, he defends his men’s singles class 10 title won one year ago.

Overall, 149 men and 57 women, representing 32 ITTF member associations, are scheduled to be present in Podgorica; of the total number, 16 players compete as independent athletes.

Play commences with the men’s singles and women’s singles events.

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