The 2015 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Oceania Para-Table Tennis Championships will take place between 10-12 April in Bendigo, Australia, coinciding with the 2015 Oceania Cup, making it the first time an event has integrated able-bodied and para-table tennis athletes in the history of the ITTF.
The second edition of the 2015 ITTF-Oceania Para-Table Tennis Championships is a qualifier for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The traditional rivalry between Australia and New Zealand is expected to be palpable throughout the event, as the Australians play in front of a home crowd and New Zealand athletes aim for the podium. In 2013, Australia beat out New Caledonia and New Zealand to top the medal count with three gold, two silver and one bronze.
For the first time, Fiji will participate in the ITTF-Oceania Para Table Tennis Championships, with a team of five athletes. This will also be their first ever international para table tennis event, allowing the currently unclassified athletes to gain further experience as they prepare for the para-table tennis events taking place at the Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games later this year.
Who to watch out for
Victor Kamizona (New Zealand)
Kamizona was the Class 9-10 champion and only overseas athlete to top the podium at the event two years ago beating Australia’s Jason Meyn in the finals to qualify for the 2014 Para-Table Tennis World Championships. However, unable to compete at the Worlds due to an accident, Kamizona will be looking to defend his title in 2015 and secure his birth for Rio 2016.
Melissa Tapper (Australia)
Tapper will be competing in both the able-bodied ITTF Oceania Cup and the ITTF Oceania Para-Table Tennis Championships. The world No. 4 in Class 10 came fourth at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and won gold at the previous Oceania Para Table Tennis Championships in women’s singles Class 6-10. She represented Australia at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and won bronze as part of the women’s team; the first Australian Paralympian to compete at the Commonwealth Games in an able-bodied event. She is aiming to become the first Australian to participate in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Daniela Di Toro (Australia)
This event will mark Di Torro’s first international para-table tennis competition following her switch from wheelchair tennis. The former world number one player won Paralympic medals in 2000 and 2004 as well as nine consecutive Australian Wheelchair Tennis Open singles titles. In her new sport, she will be looking to dominate in front of a home crowd.
The 2015 ITTF- Oceania Para-Table Tennis Championships will host 22 men and 10 women from Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Samoa. More information about the 2015 ITTF-Oceania Cup & Para-Table Tennis Championships can be found on the official website.