In Barcelona last weekend we kicked off our pre London Paralympic preparations by competing at the Roser Pecanins International Trophy. Roser Pecanins is the name of the founder of the Spanish sport federation that organises the tournament. The organising committee did an excellent job over the competition days putting on a world class event.
We began the tournament with doubles play and faced Spain and Catelonia in a 3 way round robin contest. In our opening match against Spain, we found ourselves in the middle of a beautiful game. Our jack balls throughout were completely hidden; whoever throws the jack (in alternating ends) throws the first ball, and it is an essential ball that sets the tone of play. Spain was able to demolish our solid placements, and put decent defensive balls to limit our score in the first end to 2. From there, the level of play remained high, but we were not able to capitalise on some easier shots that we should have made. The final score after 4 close ends was 4 – 2 for Spain.
We went on to defeat Catelonia, and had to settle for second place this time. On Thursday in Povoa de Varzim, Portugal, we (Canada, World #6) will face-off against Brazil (World #1) and Slovakia (World #7) in pool play. We have the possibility of meeting Great Britain, Czech Republic, Portugal (all ranked in the top 10) and newcomers Russia, after advancing to the direct elimination rounds.
In singles play in Barcelona, Marco and I had many spectacular shots, strategies and ends as we worked our way through the pools and brackets. Overall however, our play was average; I had to settle for 5th, and Marco for 3rd. Neither one of us were able to defeat our host and excellent player World #3 Chema Dueso (ESP), but we left Barcelona with a good and confidant start to our time in Europe. We will harness that energy as we take on 17 of the World’s best players in our BC4 division later this week.
We have now joined the rest of the team in Portugal and are preparing to compete on Thursday. It is great to see the other countries arrive. This competition will be like a mini-Paralympics, with many of the top teams having qualified for London, competing here.
None of this trip would be possible without Marco’s sport assistant Karin and my sport assistant and brother Mark. They help us whenever we need it in hotels, airplanes and airports, support us in warm-up, cool-down and on cobblestone streets and keep us on top of our statistics. Our coach Mario has also been a great asset these last days as we prepare and compete.
I love hearing your comments and encouragement – especially now after being on the road for 15 days. Stay tuned!