Para events added to S. Island championships

Table tennis enthusiasts can expect plenty of action at the South Island individual and para championships at the Edgar Centre this weekend.

As well as featuring plenty of top players, the tournament holds significance for a couple of extra reasons.

It serves as a crucial qualification event for the selection of the New Zealand team across various age categories.

In the open and under-19 categories, the top three players from both women’s and men’s singles events will secure spots.

The under-15 category will grant the opportunity to the top two players from both girls’ and boys’ singles to represent New Zealand at the Oceania championships.

Another feature of the tournament this year is that para events have been introduced for the first time.

Both Table Tennis New Zealand and Table Tennis Otago have been working on providing opportunities for para athletes to pursue the sport.

Otago president Ben Duffy said the association held an eight-week para training programme, funded by TTNZ and Parafed Otago last year.

"It has evolved into a weekly training affair," Duffy said.

"It has been rewarding to work with the para athletes and learn about having a positive attitude. We are proud that we have created an opportunity to train and provide a pathway for our para athletes into the future."

Duffy said the South Island tournament was an opportunity for the association to promote the sport to the wider community.

A prelude to the event will be a display of elite table tennis tonight.

South Korean professional players, who represent their nation’s army team, will play an exhibition match at the Kaikorai Valley College gymnasium.