Table tennis chief seeks assistance for 4 charges

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    TABLE tennis chief Ting Ledesma has asked national Olympic team chief of mission Mariano Araneta Jr. to consider financial assistance for four athletes, led by 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games veteran Jann Mari Nayre, in two Olympic qualifying tournament in Doha, Qatar later this month.

    The Philippine Table Tennis Federation president wrote Araneta last Feb. 18 making an appeal for Nayre, John Russel Missal, Jannah Maryam Romero and Rose Jean Fadol so they could compete in the world singles Olympic qualification tournament and Asian Olympic qualifying tournament set March 14-17 and March 18-20, respectively, in Doha, Qatar.

    Ledesma said he made the appeal after his earlier request for support was turned down by the Philippine Sports Commission, citing the table tennis squad’s dismal showing in the last 30th Southeast Asian Games in 2019 where it garnered just one bronze medal.

    While Ledesma noted the low world ratings of all four athletes, with Romero having the highest at No. 332, he pointed out that this was due to their lack of participation in International Table Tennis Federation Olympic ranking qualifying tournaments.

    “For the year 2019, our players only joined two out of over 40 tournaments plus the 2019 SEA Games. In 2020, they did not join any tournaments because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he wrote.

    He cited the fact that the late Rio Olympic veteran Ian Lariba was merely No. 323 in the ITTF ratings yet still clinched the last slot in the Asian Olympic qualifiers in April 2016, while Nayre qualified for the Buenos Aires Youth Olympics despite being rated No. 322 then.

    “The Asian qualification will have a mixed doubles qualifying tournament and we intend to field a team in this event,” he said, adding the two international tournaments will also serve as part of the national team buildup for the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam in November.

    Ledesma requested a total budget of P1,497,548.40 for the four athletes and two coaches for the Qatar trip. The team needs to leave on March 9 in keeping with the health and safety requirements for travelers coming over to Doha day before the actual tournaments.