The much spoken about Road to the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore is widening a fair a bit in the coming months . First out it is the Pan American Qualification staged this week in El Salvador , followed by qualifying events in Europe (March) and later on , in April , Oceania and Asia. On top of the assigned quotas for each continent the ITTF is also dishing out a few opportunities at designated ITTF Junior Circuit events in Bahrain , Egypt and Italy . The whole thing should be said and done by mid April with 32 boys and 32 girls qualified for the first Youth Olympic Games 14-26 August.
Well Balanced qualification System
I have always expressed a certain degree of pride when the ITTF qualification system is talked about . We have really managed to engage various National Olympic committees in the process by building quality projects in especially Pan America and Africa. The ITTF kept the eyes on the ball from the get go by pushing a lengthy, multi opportunity qualification system. We have also , in cooperation with the Olympic Solidarity and the involved National Olympic committees provided a signficant amount of funding for most of the events. Only in Pan America some 80,000 US of funding is invested in the process . For Africa the figures are slightly lower , but not much.
All in all.. I think success. I think quality. I think contact and direct communication with National Olympic Committes. And for those whom might have listened in a few times.. I also think that Table Tennis for various reasons will be one of the best presented sports in Singapore.
Pan American qualification in El Salvador 1-3 FEB
Now.. I am blog posting this time from San Salvador , El Salvador and the last qualification event for the Pan American zone. Good entries – seventeen boys and sixteen girls competing over three days. The playing system couldn’t be more easy to explain. Three knockout draws , one for each day and the three winners are directly qualified with no repeat play allowed. If you happen to win the first day , its game over and mission completed. A great test of nerves from the start to finish.
Ariel Hsing Tried , Tested and True
Not surprising it was the favourites prevailing the first day. At least if you measure by reaching the final match. In the girls singles , the clearly two best players from an international standard in Pan America, Ariel Hsing from USA and Caroline Kumahara , Brazil squared off in the first out of three direct qualification finals. This one went all the way down to the wire. Finally it was Ariel Hsing finding the right solutions in a super tight and well-played affair. The US nr one Cadet Girl came back from a one to three deficit to win the YOG spot with 12-10 in the seventh and deciding game. No doubt however in my mind that Caroline Kumahara can take plenty of positives out of her performance today. She is next in line .
Girls singles Day One ; Ariel Hsing USA def Caroline Kumahara BRA ; 4-3 ( -6,8,-7, -8,4,9,10)
Also in the boys singles two top seeds ; Pavlo Saragovi from Argentina and Eric Jouti Brazil reached the final. The outcome of this match was however never in question. Eric Jouti came out with good energi and poise from the get go. He was clearly the agressor, taking initiatives and working with his game. Well deserved victory for a young players who in most of 2009 events actually showed very little progress at times. Good to see this young boy back on track !
Boys singles Day One ; Eric Jouti BRA def Pablo Saragovi ARG ; 4-0 (9,6,3,3)
Note ; Complete results from the Pan Am qf event ; http://www.ittf.com/competitions/competitions2.asp?Competition_ID=1930&category=Special.. or the excellent www.ultm.org – the webpage of the Latin American Union.
Reporting from San Salvador in the best Olympic Spirit
Mikael Andersson, ITTF