Three athletes will represent the United States Paralympic Table Tennis Team at the 2012 Paralympics in London. Pamela Fontaine, Tara Profitt and Tahl Leibovitz are all competing for their country after qualifying for the competition. Sean O’Neill will return as head coach of the Paralympic team after serving as head coach of the squad in 2008 (Beijing) and 2004 (Athens.)
Double Oak, TX native Fontaine qualified in women’s class three wheelchair singles. Fontaine qualified after finishing 2nd at the 2011 Para Pan Am Games in Guadalajara. Fontaine also won a gold medal in singles at the 2011 Brazil Open and was a part of the gold medal winning women’s squad. Fontaine will continue to train in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with her coaches, Daniel Rutenberg and Keith Evans, before beginning training with the Paralympic team.
Profitt’s presence on the squad will allow the United States to compete in women’s team events as well as individual events. Profitt and Fontaine are extremely close on and off of the court and are excited to play together again. Profitt joined Fontaine as a member of the gold medal winning 2011 Brazil Open women’s team. Profitt was nominated by the USOC and selected by the ITTF as a wild card. Profitt has been training with her coach, Roman Tinyszin in Connecticut to prepare for London.
Leibovitz is the lone male member of the Paralympic team. Leibovitz was born in Israel but has played table tennis as a member of the United States since 1995. Leibovitz won the New York State Championship in 2009 and won a gold medal in class nine singles at the 2011 Parapan Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
O’Neill’s Paralympic squad consists of table tennis veterans who have years of experience in international competition. Leibovitz has previously represented the United States in the 1996, 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games, while both Profitt and Fontaine competed in the 1984 Paralympic Games in Stoke Mandeville, England.
In fact, after the 1984 games, Fontaine and Profitt both retired from table tennis to attend college. Both began playing competitively again in recent years and they met each other again at the 2008 U.S. Nationals. It was in 2008 when both Fontaine and Profitt decided that they would work to qualify for the 2012 Paralympics that were being held in the same country as the 1984 Paralympics.
Table tennis competition at the Paralympics will kick off on August 30th.