Leibovitz Lays New Foundations as he Aims for 2020

By Matt Hetherington | Dec. 26, 2017, 9:23 p.m. (ET)

As he builds new foundations to aim towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Tahl Leibovitz, Paralympic Gold Medalist, finished with a Gold Medal at the 2017 US Para Open which is a Factor 40 international tournament, open to participants all over the world. Some of the countries competing in competition were England, Japan, Germany, Korea, Denmark and Indonesia. 

Tahl has been working with a new coach and training partner this year in New York City; Ahmed Elmallah and credits Ahmed for his success at the US Open Winning a Gold Medal in Class 9 Singles and a Bronze Medal in Class 9-10 team event with team mate Jerry Vasquez. Elmallah is a 2500 rated player who has been active in competition in the US, the Egyptian native having produced some strong results on the east coast and also appearing in charity exhibition matches, the likes of Topspin New York which aids in funding education for New York City Youth. 

Tahl stated “Many things changed for me in 2017. I now have a new training partner and coach where I train at the Manhattan Table Tennis Club and the Long Island Table Tennis Center in Copiague. Ahmed Elmallah has been immensely helpful with my overall training. Over the past year we focused a lot on serve receive, modifying forehand technique, ball position and the mental game. 

I also have a new match coach, Mitch Seidenfeld who was my team mate many years. I had to get used to his style of coaching, but I found it to be very helpful. He prepared me well for the changes my opponents were making during the match. I had to play the same people twice, so it was helpful to confer with Mitch on what tactics I should be using. Mitch was a key factor during matches in helping me stay focused and executing the best tactics."

Seidenfeld is the current Para National Team Coach and is himself no stranger to success. Seidenfeld was a Paralympic Gold medalist in the 1992 Barcelona Games, just 2 years after winning the Para World Championships in his class. He also later had great success including winning multiple medals at the Para Pan Am Games later in his career.

The success at the 2017 US Para Open was a great result after the new alterations to Tahl's training regime. 

"After I had played against the top players from Japan and England, in the singles event; I ended up playing against them once again in the team event.  I had beaten England in the singles event 3-2 in games and 14-12 in the final game.  This was the first time I was trying to use what Ahmed had been teaching me at home and put it into international competition.  It worked in the singles and I continued using the same type of game in the team match. My training with Ahmed became automatic. I was able to do what we had done in practice but this time in one of the biggest competitions in the world. I won all the singles matches in the team event and it was much easier than in the singles event.  

With Ahmed training me in New York, I am faster now and quicker. I can counter attack very well. I will continue working with him to prepare for Peru 2019 Para Pan Am Games and Japan Paralympic Games in 2020 where I hope to win another Gold Medal in both these competitions. The training is not easy but, what I like about the training I am doing in NY with Ahmed is that it is very intense. I must have full concentration throughout each session.”  - Tahl Leibovitz, Paralympic Gold Medalist. 

Without a doubt, Tahl Leibovitz is a powerhouse in Para table tennis throughout the world. With these strong new foundations and supporters behind him in Elmallah and Seidenfeld he is sure to continue improving towards his goal of attaining another Paralympic Gold Medal. Leibovitz's improvement was notable at the Joola North American Teams where he defeated a young Chinese player, who a month later would become 2017 US Open Junior Champion. Given his extraordinairy ability to be such a formidable force in able-bodied competition, there is very little doubt that Tahl Leibovitz has all the fighting spirit and skill to be able to reach his goals.