Table Tennis was introduced as a Paralympic sport in 1960 when the games took place in Rome. Para athletes are classified from 1 to 11 based on their disabilities; 1 to 5 are for wheelchair users, 6 to 10 for those who are able to stand, and 11 for intellectual disabilities.
Masoud Mojtahed, originally from Iran, is experienced competing on the Parapan Am stage. He has won multiple medals and because of that he is considered a top medal contender. Mojtahed first noticed table tennis while he was taking swimming lessons. He found it entertaining and decided to start playing. He says sports has kept him healthy and active. He believes it has improved his overall health. His ultimate goal is to win Canada’s first Paralympic medal in the sport. This being his fourth Parapan Games, he won a silver medal in the Men’s Team Class 6 – 8 event along with Curtis Caron, and Ian Kent (who also won a bronze medal in the Men’s Singles Class 8). Stephanie Chan won a gold medal in the Woman’s Singles Class 6 – 7.
When asked what it means to be playing in Canada, he said:
“This is my third Pan American games and it’s always great to play at home, definitely. You have the crowd and I’m very proud to be part of the national game.”
Family is important to Masoud as he is married with two sons, when asked what it means having them at the Opening Ceremony:
“My family participated and they had fun. I’m happy they were there with me. It was a great show.”
As for Mikhail Drozdowski, this will be his first Parapan Games. He started playing table tennis as part of his rehabilitation program, after surviving from a brain aneurysm that affected his vision. He is also the first table tennis player rated class 11 in Canada, for athletes with an intellectual disability. In these Parapan Games, he lost to Denisos Martinez from Venezuela in the preliminary round. However he was gracious in defeat. When asked what he thought on the match and his opponent,
“It was very good. That last match was so close, nine versus 11 points! His biggest strength was his serves.”
Canada was also represented by Stephen Dunn and Asad Murtaza in the Men’s Singles Class 3 and Team Class 3 – 4, Muhammad Mudassar in the Men’s Singles Class 5, and Martin Pelletier and Asad Hussain Syed in the Men’s Singles Class 9 and in the Team Class 9 – 10.
To give table tennis a try check out these clubs: