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The Coach, the Greatest Hero of All, as Chile Book Pan American Place
By: Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

A delighted Marcos Nuñez delight to have guided Chile to Pan American Games qualification   05/30/2011

05/30/2011        Photo By: Enrique Jiménez

Marcos Nuñez was on his feet applauding.

He hugged Felipe Olivares after the 19 year old had beaten Peru’s Fernando Inca on Tuesday 30th May 2011, to secure the very last place available in the Men’s Team event at the table tennis competitions in the forthcoming Pan American Games in October.

Chile secured a three-two win in what was a tension packed contest, the victory concluded the Men’s Team qualification progress for the Pan American Men’s Team event with the United States having some 20 minutes earlier recorded a three-one victory over Puerto Rico.

Perfect Start
Hero of the hour for Chile was Felipe Olivarez; in the opening match of the duel he beat Bryan Blas by the very narrowest of margins in the fifth game to give his team the perfect start.

Alejando Rodriguez extended Chile’s lead by overcoming Juan Acosta, also in five games before Peru mounted a spirited recovery.

Peru Recovers
Bryan Blas and Fernando Inca recorded a straight games doubles victory over Andres Carlier and Alejandro Rodriguez, before Juan Acosta posted a four games victory over Andres Carlier to level matters.

The hopes of Chile rested firmly on the shoulders of Felipe Olivares; he responded, he recorded a straight games victory. It was joy for Chile, desolation for Peru; Felipe Olivares was the hero.

A hero, certainly but the real hero was Marcos Nuñez.

“Everybody, especially Felipe was motivated; when I thought about the match I didn’t think too much about technical matters”, said Marcos Nuñez. “I just thought about motivating everybody and fighting for every point.”

Biggest Fight of All
Fighting, that is Marcos Nuñez who always has a smile on his face when he speaks to you and for the last 12 months has been involved in a fight that goes far beyond table tennis, far beyond sport.

He has been fighting for his life.

Cancer of the Colon
Yes, one year ago I was diagnosed of having cancer of the colon; in December I finished by first stage of chemotherapy by January this year things were stable and on Saturday 4th June, I have more tests”, said Marcos Nuñez. “Make no mistake I´m going to beat it, just as we beat Peru today.”

The comment reflects the attitude and determination of the Chilean who in his day was one of Latin America’s leading players.

New Team
“We have a new team here in Guadalajara; there is no Juan Papic or Bruno Levis”, added Marcos Nuñez. “The team had a point to prove and they came through.”

It was success at the end of the day for Chile and a fine conclusion to proceedings in Guadalajara for Felipe Olivares who been well below form in the preceding ITTF-Latin American Championships.

“He did not play well, he felt the pressure”, explained Marcos Nuñez. “However, today, he played well; he was part of the team, he was not alone, the team supported him.”

It was a team effort; at the end of the contest after shaking hands with all concerned Marco Nuñez walked out of the immediate area to receive the congratulations of Eladio Afanador, the coach of the Puerto Rican Men’s Team who had just lost to the United States.

Genuine Response
Eladio Afanador hugged Marcos Nuñez; one year ago I wondered if Marcos Nuñez would even make the journey to Guadalajara; to eventually see him achieve the goal of a place in the Pan American Games was an ending befitting any movie. Eladio Afanador expressed those sentiments with his actions.

Young Team
Earlier it had been defeat for Eladio Afanador’s team but Puerto Rico fielded a very young team and four years hence when the Pan American Games are staged in the Canadian city of Toronto, Puerto Rico could well be major challengers for honours.

However in Guadalajara, wins for Fan Yiyong over Brian Afanador and Elvin Rivera plus success in the doubles for Mark Hazinski and Timothy Wang over Daniel Gonzalez and Elvin Rivera secured the United States a place in the Pan American Games.

Hard Earned
The place was hard earned; in the semi-finals they had been severely tested by Colombia. In the opening match of the fixture, Alex Echavarria had beaten Fan Yiyong with the second contest seeing Jaime Valenciano hold one match point in the fourth game against Mark Hazinski before suffering defeat.

Timothy Wang and Mark Hazinski beat Julian Arango and Jaime Valenciano with Timothy Wang bringing matters to an end by overcoming Alex Echavarria by the narrowest of margins in the fifth game.

Tense Sem-Final
Equally, Puerto Rico had been involved in a tense semi-final duel.

They beat Paraguay three-two with Brian Afandor and Elvin Rosario defeating Alejandro Toranzos, whilst Daniel Gonzalez accounted for Santiago Osorio. The two wins for Paraguay came from Marcelo Aguirre against Daniel Gonzalez and in the doubles where Macelo Aguirre partnered Santiago Osorio in opposition to Brian Afanador and Elvin Rivera.

The qualifiers for the Men’s Team event at the Pan America Games are as follows:

Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, United States of America, Chile

Four places remain in the Men’s Singles event; a qualifying competition to decide those place commences on Tuesday 30th May and concludes one day later on Tuesday 31st May 2011.



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