by Kabir Nagpal
A name so popular in Para table tennis that nearly every fan would do a double-take as they read the mention of the Australian superstar in this list. However, it is true that for the double gold medallist at the ITTF Oceania Para Table Tennis Championship, Tapper has been unable to record a podium finish at the Paralympics. Ranked world no.3 in women’s singles class 10, the 30-year-old is already focused on Tokyo 2021 for what is now her most important challenge.
Who said World champions do not have targets? Korea Republic’s Kim Kunhea has been a consistent performer on the Asian circuit for over a decade now and most recently peaked at the 2018 World Para Championships when she won the gold medal in the women’s singles class 9. Despite her multiple silver and bronze medals at the Asian Para Games and Asian Championships – six silvers and four bronze – the goal of a Paralympic Games medal still eludes the 47-year-old.
Having won nothing less than gold and silver across major competitions in her career, Russia’s Elena Prokofeva would certain wish to not be on this list come the end of this week, next year. A triple gold medallist in European Para Championships – team and women’s singles class 11 – Prokofeva is ranked world no.1 in her class for a reason. Turning 50 next year, and after winning the 2018 World Championships and the 2019 European Championships, is destiny on her side for 2021 in Tokyo?
Where there are veterans, there are those who are simply too good for their age too. 20-year-old Sophie Walloe may suffer from a congenital impaired range of motion, but that has not stopped her from reaching the podium at the World and European Championships five times. Ranked as world no.4 in women’s singles class 10, the Danish international is set to go all out in the hope for her very first Paralympic medal next year.
Christina da Silva Oliveira
Brazil’s Christina da Silva Oliveira first appeared on the Para circuit in 2013, at the Copa Tango XI. Since then, the 29-year-old has been very effective in her performances and is known for her grit in every match. A silver medallist in the women’s singles class 1-2 at the 2018 World Championships, Oliveira more recently secured the bronze medal at the 2019 Pan American Championships, but in women’s singles class 2-3. Now ranked world no.2 in her class, can she claim the biggest prize in Tokyo and finally ascend to the top of the podium?