15-Year-old Diaz Secures Historic Olympic Qualification
15-year-old Adriana DIAZ has created history by becoming the first ever Puerto Rican to qualify for the table tennis event at the Olympic Games.
The rising superstar booked her place at Rio 2016, at the 2016 ITTF-Latin America Olympic Qualifications held on 1-3 April 2016 in Santiago, Chile.
Despite being the youngest player at the event, DIAZ was the number one seed, she stated after her emotional victory: "I can't believe I have qualified, by dream of representing my country at the Olympic Games. It was extremely tough to qualify here. I said to myself fight, no surrender, it was very close and my team mates really helped me. Now for Rio and a great experience".
Joining DIAZ in Rio will be Columbia's Lady RUANO, who is 19 years DIAZ's senior, as well as the Brazillian pair of Caroline KUMAHARA and GUI Lin, Mexico's Yadira SILVA and Venezuela's Gremlis ARVELO.
After being defeated in the decisive contest to secure a place at Beijing 2008, and four years later to again miss out on a place at London 2012, Mexico's Marcos MADRID finally secured his dream of becoming an Olympian by qualifying for Rio 2016.
"Really I fought like a dog, I left my home over eight years ago with the goal of qualifying for the Olympic Games, now thanks to the support from my family, I have achieved my goal", said MADRID. "It is the greatest moment of my career, against Gustavo it was an intense struggle, each point was hard fought, now my dream has come true, I can enjoy my dream."
One of the men that MADRID beat on the way to qualification, top seeded Gustavo TSUBOI from Brazil, had to wait until the final match to ensure the final Latin American spot for Rio 2016 was his.
TSUBOI, who was expected to cruise through the qualifications, being the highest ranked player at the qualification event stated: "I am very happy to have eventually overcome many problems here in Santiago, five months ago I injured my playing arm and I only started to practice again one month ago. I have trained really hard for this event, in the past I have qualified on the first day but here it was much harder, however, I had the support of my family and my coach."
Youth Olympian Brian AFANADOR followed in the footsteps of his countrywomen Adriana DIAZ to become the second Puerto Rican to play at the Olympic Games table tennis event. Along with them, the pair of Cubans Jorge CAMPOS and Andy PEREIRA make up the five men to qualify for Rio 2016, along with Hugo CALDERANO (BRA), who secured his position, by winning the Pan American Games last year.
Full list of Qualifiers from the 2016 ITTF-Latin American Olympic Qualification Tournament:
Adriana DIAZ - Puerto Rico
Lady RUANO - Columbia
Caroline KUMAHARA - Brazil
GUI Lin - Brazil
Yadira SILVA - Mexico
Gremlis ARVELO - Venezuela
Marcos MADRID - Mexico
Gustavo TSUBOI - Brazil
Brian AFANADOR - Puerto Rico
Jorge CAMPOS - Cuba
Andy PEREIRA - Cuba
Event news & results: http://bit.ly/1otQ9Cw
Editorial photos: http://bit.ly/239UURx
Match replays: http://bit.ly/1RTDOSE