It may have taken 19 years, but for Spain’s Jordi Morales the wait for an individual Para table tennis world title made his triumph even sweeter.
The newly-crowned class 7 champion has been competing since 1999 when he entered his first tournament aged just 13. Despite doubles success, a singles gold eluded him until this year’s Worlds in Lasko-Celje, Slovenia.
So what was the key to the Spaniard’s long-awaited success in 2018? Relaxation.
“Recently I changed my mindset a little bit,” explained Morales.
“Before, I was really obsessed with my results, but now I try to enjoy every moment of the day, every training session and every competition.
“Table tennis is my life, and I enjoy my life. With this mentality, I work hard to improve small details which can make the difference.”
Just the beginning
Now Morales finally has his first singles title, he hopes his “best achievement” can lead to more success.
“Now I am sure that anything can happen in every competition that takes place. I know I will not win every tournament, but I know I can compete with the best players and this experience is the best I can have,” he explained.
Veteran of the sport
Despite his singles gold coming quite late into his career, Morales has been competing amongst the best virtually from the beginning.
Alongside long-time doubles partner – and multi-Paralympic medallist - Alvaro Valera, Morales clinched team gold in the 1999 European Championships when he had barely reached his teenage years.
“That was a big surprise,” he remembered Moralez. “We won in teams with Alvaro, who was the best player in class 8 in that moment. For me, even just to participate was unexpected.”
Alongside Valera, Morales has tasted team gold multiple times even at world level with four European and two world titles to his name.
Valera has therefore been a huge figure throughout his career.
“I'm really lucky to have in my team the best player ever.” says Morales.
“I always try to be a little bit like him, because [to] be exactly like him is impossible. Most of the things I know about table tennis are because of him.”
Now Morales can at last stand beside his partner as a fellow individual world champion, with both set to be serious contenders for medals at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.