Paralympic gold medalist Tahl Leibovitz will be headed back to the Paralympic Games in 2021 along with two first time Paralympians in Ian Seidenfeld and Jenson Van Emburgh, the International Table Tennis Federation has confirmed.
Leibovitz and Seidenfeld qualify by virtue of their performance at the 2019 Parapan American Games last August in Lima, Peru, while Van Emburgh qualified based on his world ranking of No. 11 in Class 3 (and first in U23). Leibovitz, headed to his sixth Paralympic Games, made his debut at the Games in 1996, before either Van Emburgh or Seidenfeld were born.
"We are all very proud of Team USA players,” said Jasna Rather, USA Table Tennis director of Para Programs. “Tahl will have a chance to fight for another Paralympic gold.”
Leibovitz, 45, is already a USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame inductee with three Paralympic medals and 13 Parapan American Games gold medals in his career. At his first Paralympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, Leibovitz won a team bronze medal and gold in singles. He then added a third medal with singles bronze in Athens in 2004.
“I think this will be the best ever,” Leibovitz said. “I am looking forward to an amazing experience with my teammates.”
The Seidenfeld name is one that has often appeared on the Paralympic medal podium. Ian’s father Mitchell Seidenfeld is a four-time Paralympic medalist, winning gold in Barcelona in 1992. He also coaches Ian, now a teenage Paralympian. Ian Seidenfeld won the silver medal in singles at his Parapan debut in 2019, but later was awarded the gold medal after Chilean Matias Pino failed a drug test.
“I’m excited that I qualified,” said Seidenfeld. “Qualifying is an important step towards my ultimate goal, and I hope to accomplish much more next year in Tokyo.”
Van Emburgh, 20, will look to build off of his Parapan singles silver medal. After five years of selection to the U.S. Junior Para National Team, Van Emburgh competed in his first world championships in 2018.
“It is an honor to have the opportunity to represent the United States at the Tokyo Paralympics,” Van Emburgh said. “Thanks to my family and everyone that has supported me to get here. This is only the beginning of big things.”
After being postponed one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, are scheduled to kick off on August 24, 2021.
Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.