Team Vanuatu wins silver in women’s para table tennis
Para table tennis athlete Mary Romel yesterday became the first athlete from Team Vanuatu to win a silver medal at the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby. Romel was narrowly defeated by New Caledonia’s Delphine Andre in the women’s table tennis ambulant singles final.
These Pacific Games marked the first time that athletes with a disability participated in the Games as part of Team Vanuatu, and their inclusion has been a huge success.
Romel was joined by fellow para table tennis athlete Rodney Ben who placed sixth in the competition overall. Vanuatu Paralympic Committee Secretary-General, Andrew Bynon, noted that the inclusion of athletes with disabilities in Team Vanuatu is indicative of changing social attitudes towards people with disabilities in the country.
“It’s really great to see Vanuatu embrace athletes with disabilities. These results reflect the commitment of the Vanuatu Table Tennis Federation in welcoming athletes with a disability into their successful development program."
Vanuatu Table Tennis Sport Development Officer Anolyn Lulu also spoke highly of both athletes.
“Mary and Rodney worked really hard to get to the Pacific Games. In the final months, they were training every single day alongside our able-bodied table tennis athletes. They should both be very proud of their successes”.
Romel’s success at the Games is due to the hard work of many people and organisations. This includes the weekly table tennis sports program at Wan Smol Bag, the administrative and financial support of the Vanuatu Paralympic Committee, development funding from the Smash Down Barriers Program run by Table Tennis Australia, training and assistance from Vanuatu Table Tennis, assistance from the Vanuatu Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee (VASANOC), as well as the hard work and dedication of Romel, her coach Pareina Matariki and Vanuatu Table Tennis Sport Development Officer, Anolyn Lulu.
Lulu said that the athletes would now be looking to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
“Cyclone Pam really affected our ability to send these athletes to international competitions earlier this year”, she said. “But both athletes have now put in a solid performance at these Games, and this has laid the foundation for our bid to send para table tennis athletes to Rio”.
The Vanuatu Paralympic Committee congratulates Mary Romel and Rodney Ben on their success at the 2015 Pacific Games and in their campaign for inclusion in the 2016 Rio Paralympics.