With gold medal win, Adriana Díaz qualifies for World Cup in Japan
By The Star Staff
Adriana Díaz won her second gold medal in table tennis at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile on Wednesday, rallying to beat Bruna Takahashi of Brazil, 4-3 in the women’s singles final.
With the victory, the 23-year-old from Utuado, who was ranked 11th in the world going into the continental competition, was awarded points qualifying her for the Table Tennis World Cup to be held in Nagoya, Japan in December.
Díaz rallied from a 2-3 deficit, winning the last two sets. The final tally was 9-11, 14-12, 11-3, 8-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7.
“I nevertheless can not believe that,” Díaz said after her victory. “At one point in the match I thought she was slipping out of my hands. Bruna was playing amazing. A strategy she had never tried with me. Lots of effect, very slow. In the end, I said ‘Adriana, it’s now or never.’ I focused. Concentrate. My dad kept telling me to keep going. I caught up with her at some point.”
The two opponents shared a long and tearful embrace after the match, their 30th. Díaz holds a 19-11 advantage in her rivalry with the 23rd-ranked Takahashi.
“If I didn’t win here I wouldn’t qualify for the World Cup,” Díaz added. “It was something that was always on my mind. I didn’t say it, obviously. It was something that was always with me. It was either you win here or you don’t qualify among the best 16 for the World Cup. I didn’t want to miss the World Cup. I wanted Puerto Rico to be there. It has been one of the best years of my career. I’m happy to be back in the Top Ten. Now let’s continue.”
As previously reported, Díaz has now won seven medals all-time at the Pan Americans, the most ever by a Puerto Rican athlete.
Grappler Cruz wins bronze for Puerto Rico’s 11th medal
Puerto Rican wrestler Darian Toi Cruz won medal No. 11, a bronze, for Puerto Rico on Wednesday in Santiago, in the 57-kilogram freestyle category.
Cruz advanced to the semifinals after beating Guatemalan Edwin Segura 4-0, but lost 8-2 against American Zane Richards. In the bronze medal match, Dominican Juan Ramírez did not appear due to injury, automatically awarding the medal to Cruz.
Meanwhile, Jonovan Smith was denied a medal after a 7-6 defeat against Argentine Catriel Muriel in the 125-kilo category. Shane Jones finished in ninth place at 74 kilos after falling 11-5 to the Honduran Luis Barrios.