Our preparations in Chiba have concluded, and we have since moved to the Olympic Village. Here, the five of us share a lovely apartment, each with our own bedroom and a common living area. Everything is meticulously arranged, and Japan has warmly welcomed us. Personally, I have a positive feeling about it all. I am well-prepared, and it all begins on Wednesday. In sports, there are no guarantees, and that’s what makes it so beautiful. Every match starts at ‘zero,’ and everyone hopes for that memorable day when they rise above themselves and deliver a performance that was not necessarily expected. Certainly, my opponents are highly motivated to prevent me from securing my third Paralympic title, and I will do everything in my power to defend that very title! In just about a week, we will know the outcome.
Today, the draw was announced, and on Wednesday, I will be facing the champion of the American continent, Mexico’s Claudia Perez Villalba. She’s a bit older and defeated both of the previous American champions during the 2019 championship. Currently ranked 10th in the world, I’ve played against her once before in Costa Rica. The second opponent is a familiar face, the French player Anne Barneoud, who has been a stalwart in the para table tennis circuit for many years. She is seeded 6th, but she poses a challenge for me because on her good days, she can hit impossible shots. When Anne gets into a good ‘flow,’ she can make it very tough for me. It’s up to me to ensure she doesn’t find her ‘flow’!
Wednesday, August 25th
I will be playing at 09:40 AM (Dutch time) against Claudia, and on Thursday, August 26th, also at 09:40 AM, I will face Anne. To check if a livestream is available, you can visit the Team NL/Paralympische Spelen/Programma/Tafeltennis website. The livestream can be accessed on the same website. During the preliminary rounds, there are a total of eight table tennis tables available, but only two matches are broadcast simultaneously. I hope that my matches will be covered for you to watch, but unfortunately, I have no control over this.
Finally, I want to express my gratitude to everyone for all the encouragement and kind messages on social media, especially from Dongen and the surrounding areas. It provides me with incredible inspiration to fight even harder for a successful outcome in the upcoming matches!