This time around, Argentina’s Giselle Munoz might leave the Parapan American Games with gold around her neck.
Ranked No. 5 in the world and the highest in the Americas region, the class 7 player is a favourite at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, which begin Friday (7 August).
“Well it is not going to be easy, but I am training as hard as I can to get the gold medal,” Munoz said.
Munoz looks to improve upon her bronze medal finish from the 2011 edition in Guadalajara, Mexico. Although she qualified for the London 2012 Paralympics, she did not make it through the group stage, losing all three of her matches.
That only seemed to fuel her.
Since then, she has reached the podium at various events, including a bronze medal finish in the 2014 World Championships and notably gold at the 2013 Para PanAmerican Championships, where she won all of her group matches.
Munoz is determined to go farther at Rio 2016, as Toronto 2015 serves as a qualifier for the Paralympics.
“It is the adrenaline of each game. That is my favorite thing,” the 30-year-old said.
Munoz has been playing table tennis since she was a teenager and was first introduced to the sport when she attended her local centre for people with impairments 17 years ago.
After playing recreationally for a short while, she met her first coach and never looked back. She was only 16-years-old when she received her first set of awards – three gold medals in the 2001 South American Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She followed that up a few days later in the Copa Tango, also in Buenos Aires, with the same three wins.
It was at the first Para PanAmerican Championships in November 2001 that she earned her first major title, taking home two gold medals.
In Toronto, Munoz anticipates her major competition to be Canada’s Stephanie Chan, ranked No. 11 in the world. The 57-year-old will be playing on home soil, and Munoz expects that may give Chan a big advantage.
The two have faced each other on several occasions with the most recent being the 2015 Slovakia Open in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Munoz finished that event with two bronze medals (singles class 7 and teams class 6-7). Although Chan did not reach the podium, Munoz knows her rival will come back just as motivated with Rio 2016 qualification slots at stake.