Para Pan Am Games - Singles Medal Rounds - Preview
Here in Guadalajara we are now ready for the medal round day in the singles competition.
Today, Wednesday November 15, we will have 5 medal matches played with USA athletes in them.
10:45 - Tara Profitt plays a Bronze medal match in Women wheelchair class 3. She is herself a class 2 athlete but could not play in her class because it was not enough entries in her class to form an event. In the semifinal that was played today (Tuesday November 14) she played her team mate Pam Fontaine who is class 3. So we knew that we would have a USA athlete in the final. No matter what. Tara is so far maybe the biggest surpass in the tournament. She has raised level significant compared to previous international tournaments.She has won 3 matches in a class where she plays players with less disability than herself. Every won match will improve her world ranking, which matters very much for the selection to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.
At The same time Daryl Sterling plays for the Bronze medal in men standing class 7. Daryl won his round robin, but lost today in the semifinal in a very tough match against a penholder from Chile.
The Parapan Am Games is a direct qualifier for the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, which means that in each singles event the Gold medalist qualifies directly to the Games.
At 12:15 - Andre Scott will play the final in Men's wheelchair singles class 5. Andre is so far undefeated and came into the tournament as the 4th seed. In his group he beat tournament number 3rd seed in his first match in the tournament from Argentina. Then he continued to win over a player from Brazil. In today's semifinal he won over tournament seed number 2 from Argentina as well in very tough match to 5 games and Andre won 11-7 in the final game. In the final he will play world ranked number 9 and tournament seed number 1 from Brazil.
At 1 pm - Tahl Leibovitz will play the final in Men Standing class 9. He came into the tournament as the number 1 seed and had won all his matches so far. In the final he plays the next wounder kid from Mexico who is only 13 years old. Tahl played him already in his group and won so he is the favorite for a Parapan Am gold medal.
At the same time Pam Fontaine women wheelchair class 3 will play the Gold medal match. She won over Tara Profitt in the semifinal and will face a strong player from Cuba in the final who beat Tara in her group.
Other results are that Wayne Lo lost in the quarter final in Men standing class 8 to a player from Brazil.
In General the USA Team has played very well in this tournament so far. Many thanks goes to USOC who has provided excellent support for the team, and the USATT staff who helped a lot in organizing the organizing the training camp in Colorado Springs before the Games.
Daniel Rutenberg and Keith Evans has worked very hard with the team. To handle 12 athletes with only 2 coaches is very tough. Every day they get upat 6 am and go to bed at midnight. The team had many times 4 athletes play at the same time.
The team also has 3 Personal Care Assistants (PCA) Matt Profitt, Chuck Segrest, and Angela Middleton not to be confused with the Royal Bigness of Great Britain, where the teams PCA's. They have all worked tirelessly to help their designated athletes and the team in general. Wheelchair Class 1 and 2 are considered severe disabled athletes and are often assigned a PCA to assist with their daily necessities.
The team also for the first time had a class 11 team member in Melissa Middleton. Class 11 stands for intellectually disabled. She had to go though some grueling test to make sure she has minimum disability. This is not to be confused with Special Olympics, which more of a recreational format. The winner of class 11 qualifies also directly to the Games in London.
This is her first International tournament so many things were new for her, but she behaved very impressive and was a very good student and has learned a lot during the camp and in the tournament, and we hope to see Melissa at many more tournaments in the future. She became the teams Mascot for her excellent behavior and positive attitude.
A tough fighter needs to be mentioned in Jim Segrest he won one match on his round robin but did not advance among the top 2 in his group but fell out of his chair twice in his last match when he was reaching for very short balls. Jim is a much tougher player now and has improved a lot in the the last year, and we hope he can get enough ranking points to qualify to the London Games.
The day after tomorrow starts the team competition.