“The Paralympic Games is the biggest competition we can ever compete in so I am really looking forward to entering the arena and starting the Games.”
Sweden’s world No.1 table tennis player Anna-Carin Ahlquist is determined to make her third Paralympics this September in Rio in order to defend the gold medal she won four years ago in London.
The 43-year-old class 3 veteran has won five European titles since 2009 and picked up two silvers and a bronze at the 2010 and 2014 World Championships. She now wants more medal success at Rio 2016.
“It’s a totally new year and a totally new Paralympic Games; new circumstances, new players, new equipment, a different country, different weather... you have to prepare for everything,” said Ahlquist who has topped the world rankings since London 2012.
“I have used my experience from the previous Games to plan this year. My goals are of course to win new medals in both the singles and team event, but it is going to be extremely tough. Everybody has been training for this event for four years and everyone will be well prepared in September.”
Ahlquist won the women’s class 3 singles gold at London 2012 with victory over Austria’s Doris Mader, a player who has not beaten the Swede since 2007 and is currently ranked fifth in the world.
In the team event in Rio, Ahlquist is expected to partner with Ingela Lundback. The pair won their first major medal at the 2007 European Championships, claiming bronze. Falling to China in the finals at both London 2012 and the 2014 World Championships, the Swedish duo will be determined to erase the past should they meet Team China again in the Rio 2016 finals.
“I have the biggest respect for all my opponents,” Ahlquist said. “I know all of them will be in top shape, everyone keeps a really high level and anyone of the can actually win in Rio.”
This year, Ahlquist took singles and team gold at the Lignano Master Open in Italy. She beat current world No. 3 Andela Muzinic of Croatia in the singles finals. She and Muzinic previously met in the class 3 singles finals at the 2015 European Championships, where Ahlquist took gold.
Outside of Europe, China’s Qian Li – who defeated Ahlquist in the 2014 Worlds finals – and Juan Xueare are ranked second and fourth in the world respectively.
“The Paralympic Games is the biggest competition we can ever compete in so I am really looking forward to entering the arena and starting the Games,” Ahlquist said.
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.