The wind was coming from the North this morning. Cold and brisk it was , not at all uncommon up here in the Great White North. It’s fun to be back in the country that graciously fed and cared about you for almost fourteen years and good to know that not much have changed .
So there I was jogging in the early morning hour outside my hotel. How refreshing was it not to meet Lisa LUNG from Belgium and her coach as they also came out, on a rest day, to just keep doing what they have done so far here in Mississauga – follow a routine and be the perfect pair of one talented young athlete and the hard working coach.
Yesterday evening, Lisa and her coach negotiated all the opponents in the Road to Nanjing 2014 series event to clinch a spot in the upcoming Youth Olympic Games. In my opinion the best female player won this competition. Lisa does have, in her best moments , a certain toughness and drive that many of the other girls are missing. She should do well in Nanjing and will for sure slowly but securely establish herself as a very competitive junior player in Europe and why not in the world.
The male qualifier from this competition ; Andreas LEVENKO from Austria was more of a surprise, at least in my eyes. We should credit Andreas for taking the chance when it came to him – in the final almost served on a silver plate by a very nervous and insecure Carl Ahlander Johansson from Sweden. . Ahlander – Johansson surely looked like a winner when he, after a weak start in the first two games took the following three and also the lead in the sixth game against a more and more frustrated Levenko. This time the big key for the young Austrian was to maintain calm and composed. He took his time out at 0-3 and slowly started to find the right balance mentally again. Having said that it was almost shocking to see how passive and shaken the Swedish top junior became in the deciding seventh game in which he lost 2-11.
The closed North American qualification also produced two qualifiers for the Nanjing Games today. Anqi LUO from Canada showed no mercy with the other Canadian girls and can now start to prepare for the festivities in August.
The junior boys’ competition on the other hand had its fair share of dramatic twists and turns. For a couple of rounds this morning and into what was to become a dramatic semi-final Allen WANG from New Jersey looked like the player to beat. Allen was leading 3-1 in the semis against the outside Toronto area rather unknown Klement YEUNG but then like a strike from above lost all his confidence and also the match, with the narrowest of margins in the seventh game.
In the final however it was game over for YEUNG who succumbed to Krishnateja AVVARI from Milpitas, CA and the USA. Better known, short and sweet as “Kris” in the USA TT circles this young American is now the third athlete born in 1999 to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games. With him you are looking at a fine young talent with plenty of upsides from a technical point of view. What is missing is instead toughness and experience, attributes that now can be picked up over the summer months with Nanjing as the final goal.