Gonzales, Lariba earn table tennis world championship berths
Richard Gonzales, the country’s no. 1 table tennis player, and Ian ‘Yan-yan’ Lariba gained a slot in the 2014 World Table Tennis Championship on April 28 to May 5 in Tokyo, Japan after initial recommendations from the coaches.
Table Tennis Association of the Philippines (TATAP) President Ting Ledesma explained that Gonzales’ inclusion was a reward for his gallant stand in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar despite playing with a sprained ankle during quarterfinals.
He settled for a bronze medal in the men’s singles event there after losing against a Singaporean foe in the semifinals.
“It’s really a great pleasure to represent the country in a world tournament like [the] world championship,” Gonzales, 42, told Rappler. “I always train hard and give my best every time. I don’t want to expect anything but I will go there to win.”
For Ledesma, he said: “Gonzales deserves a shot in the world championship for what he showed in the last SEA Games. Although he sprained his ankle in the quarterfinals, he didn’t give up and won.”
“Unfortunately, he failed to compete at his very best in the semis because of the pain but he tried his best,” he added. “For Lariba, she also deserved that spot in the women’s class. She is still very young and promising, so we’re giving this opportunity to her.”
Ledesma said only Gonzales and Lariba are qualified so far while other players will still be evaluated by the coaches since world championship is considered to be the stiffest competition.
The Army man Gonzales also encouraged young athletes to strive hard and give their best performance in different overseas competitions while in the peak of their career for the sake of Filipino pride.
“Our young promising athletes have the potential to win gold medals for our country if they will pursue greatness by training hard and listening to the advise of their respective coaches,” said the 2005 Philippines SEA Games men’s singles silver medalist Gonzales.
Gonzales, who also won the 2008 Southeast Asian Table Tennis Championship men’s singles gold, expressed gratitude to the current leadership of Ledesma for helping the Philippine team since became president in April 2012.
He also bagged a bronze medal in the recent World Liha Ping-Pong Championship in London after reaching the semifinal round. - Rappler.com
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