by Olalekan Okusan
Now 44 years old, Edith Sigala is not giving up on winning a medal at the Paralympic Games. The experienced athlete believes she still has something to offer when the battle begins in Tokyo next year.
However, the journey to the biggest sporting fiesta in the world started more than two decades ago when she was introduced to table tennis.
“I started taking part in sports at the rehabilitation centre where I was taking my therapies, back then I was 23 years old. It was the physiotherapists that were with me during my therapies that taught me to play. They also invited me to basketball but in the end table tennis was the sport I liked the most.” Edith Sigala
Despite the huge challenges faced, Lopez admitted that she was not discouraged.
“I do face different challenges, like transportation to trainings, also using rackets that were not mine, but I always enjoyed and took advantage each day I train.” Edith Sigala
Four years after starting table tennis, Lopez made her debut at the Pan American Championships in 2003 where she managed to secure a bronze medal and in 2005, she returned to the tournament to claim gold.
“My participation in Pan American Championships began in 2003 and the memories that come to my mind are that I was really happy as expectations were very low and winning a medal was not part of the original plans. However, my willingness to succeed in this sport pushed me forward as it is a sport that has been through different technological advances as well as from the view of training, strategies, styles and other aspects. For this, every time I have the opportunity of representing my country I always give my best.” Edith Sigala
Thoughtfully she reminisced about the 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Games.
“The Paralympic Games is where the best athletes from all over the world attend, for me is not only making the travel and competing but strongly aiming for the medal, this has kept my willingness since I started competing. It is not only reaching your goals, you need to maintain your level and for that, hard work is the only answer. Through my life I have learnt a lot of lessons but this most important thing is that we should be thankful for what we have and what we get. Some people say they have not much and others say they have a lot, but I think each of us have what we need. Appreciating each day, each moment and making friends from all over the world is something I value…
… London 2012 was my first experience at the Games and I remember that the journey to London was harsh. On getting there I put everything behind me as I was completely focused on giving my best at the table. Even though I didn’t have a good result my feelings were good. At Rio 2016 I was experienced and for that I also focused on having a good time, unlike in London I didn’t have this opportunity because the result was the only thing in my mind but enjoying the event is also part of the experience. In Rio, we finished in fifth place in the team event but in the singles, we still have a pending task.” Edith Sigala
Sigala secured her place at Tokyo after her triumph at the 2019 Pan American Championships and she is ready to work harder to make the podium in Japan.
“I feel really happy and committed with a great responsibility of having a place at the greatest event an athlete can attend. We are working hard in order to reach a better result than Rio 2016. I must keep on with the hard work, discipline and above all with that willingness of having a great participation on my third opportunity at a Paralympic Games. We will have to work on what we learnt and evaluate what needs to be improved to succeed.” Edith Sigala