Josephine Medina’s chances of returning to the Summer Paralympics were boosted after the International Table Tennis Federation named her as an alternate to the 2021 Games in Tokyo.
“The ITTF sent a letter to the National Paralympic Committee-Philippines and to Medina that she was named as an alternate to the Tokyo Paralympic Games,” Francisco Diaz, the national squad’s chef de mission to the Tokyo Para Games, said on Friday.
“At least, Josephine has one foot into the World Para Games,” added Diaz, who is also the dean of University of the Philippines Diliman’s College of Human Kinetics.
Multi-titled swimmer Ernie Gawilan, who bagged three gold and two silver medals in the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, is the country’s first World Para Games qualifier after the World Paralympic Swimming Federation (WPSF) awarded him with an outright slot to the meet.
The WPSF also named Gawilan as one of the torch-bearers to the sports fest originally scheduled Aug. 26 to Sept. 6, 2020 in Tokyo, shortly after the Olympic Games, which have been reset for next year.
Diaz explained that, while there is a qualification system for the World Para Games, “all international federations under the Olympic movement have what they call a ‘bipartite commission invitation’ or what we may call a wild card.”
“This is determined by the ITTF for those who are worthy to come to the Paralympics with the approval of the host country,” Diaz added.
Upon learning of the development NPC Philippines president Mike Barredo said: “My expectations are high that (Medina) will make it to the World Paralympics again. After all she already won a bronze medal in her category in the last Rio Paralympics.”
Medina, 50, saw action at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Para Games, bagging a singles bronze medal in the Class 8 women’s division by beating Germany’s Juliane Wolf 11-5, 11-6, 11-7.
She also copped a silver medal in the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, while her latest international feat was ruling the Class 7-8 women’s singles of the ITTF Para Bangkok Open in August 2019 in Thailand.
Based on the Paralympic qualification process for table tennis, a total of 250 slots in the men’s and women’s divisions are up for grabs at the World Para Games.
Of these numbers, 150 athletes will be taken from the combined ITTF continental championships held last year in Africa, Asia, Pan-America, Oceania and Europe plus 59 more from the Paralympic world ranking tournaments.
Another 21 slots were supposed to be at stake at the ITTF Paralympic world qualification tournament slated last May 9 to 11 in Laslo, Slovenia, but it was scrapped due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Medina was all set to see action in the competition.
The remaining 50 tickets -- for 36 male and 14 female athletes -- won’t be announced by the ITTF Bipartite Commission until the end of April next year.
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