Pleasantville Plays For History

The inaugural ITTF Parkinson’s World Table Tennis Championships took place this weekend in Pleasantville, New York. It was an eagerly anticipated event, with players longing to meet each other, train together and learn about their Parkinson’s fight. From North America to Japan they came to witness and be part of history!

“We are not only playing for us. We are playing for 10 million people with Parkinson’s that might be laying in their couches.” Nenad Bach, Tournament Director

Leandro Olvech (left), Nenad Bach (centre) and Thomas Weikert (right) at Westchester Table Tennis Centre. Photo: Warren Rosenberg

Friday, October 11th kicked off with the classification of players, where each participant received a class according to the severity of their Parkinson’s symptoms. Class 1 was categorized as the most severe and Class 3 less severe. For the men’s tournament, a total 16 players were categorized in Class 1, 17 in Class 2 and 16 in Class 3.

Strong will, resilience and passion were highlighted by the players throughout the three (3) days. It was more than a competition, it was the unified hope of many strong people and supporters sharing with the world the positive impact table tennis has had in their lives, enabling them to not only inspire at Pleasantville but also to stand in solidarity with all other people with Parkinson’s worldwide and against stigma and dull life. The hugs, smiles, music playing, high fives and sweat showed that it was not games as usual, but community at its best.

Damasio Caeiro receives a hug from his son. Photo: Warren Rosenberg

"It’s most important that with this event people with Parkinson’s can come out, connect with others and share about their journey. Table tennis has been proved to slow down symptoms and the players here are true athletes.” Zoran Primorac, Ambassador for Parkinson’s World Table Tennis Championships

“Table tennis is one of the rare sports activities that individuals with Parkinson’s Disease and their families can do together.” Professor. Miran Kondric, Chair ITTF Sports Science Committee

New World Champions

Margie Alley secured the gold medal for the women’s singles while Katagiri Asako and Kato Yurie were the champions in the women’s doubles. Men’s doubles awarded Thorsten Boomhois and Holger Teppe while men’s final singles draw saw Holger Teppe (Class 1), Ilya Rozenblat (Class 2) and Hamid Ezzat-Ahmadi (Class 3) become world champions.

Margie Alley before winning the women's singles
Men's singles, Class 3 - (far left) Edmur Mesquita, Hamid Ezzat-Ahmadi, Navin Kumar and Hirmichi Kawai with Nenad Bach, Tournament Director (far right). Photo: Warren Rosenberg

“It’s good for the brain because with table tennis you need to adjust for the ball’s speed, angle and the spin and it all happens very quickly!" Alan Abt, Class 1 player

“It is our goal, to help and support the Parkinson’s community through the ITTF Foundation’s TT4Health Program.” Thomas Weikert, President ITTF Foundation

“The event was a big success and the ITTF Foundation is seriously evaluating the continuation of the Parkinson's World Table Tennis Championships," Leandro Olvech, Director ITTF Foundation

Men's singles, Class 1 - (far left) Damasio Caeiro, Holger Teppe, Harry Wissler and Naomichi Saito with Leandro Olvech ITTF Foundation Director (far right). Photo: Warren Rosenberg
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