US Para Players Attend International Training Camp in Slovenia
by Jasna Rather
From July 29 – August 7, 2023, the USA Table Tennis Para Developmental Team attended an international table tennis training camp in Laško, Slovenia. Highly experienced European coaches ran the training camp for over 50 athletes from across the world, including Croatia, Finland, Great Britain, Serbia, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia and the US. The camp also included non-Para athletes as training partners. Laško, Slovenia is no stranger to the Para Table Tennis community, as it hosts the biggest international Para tournament on the planet, the Para Slovenia Open every May. USA Table Tennis, with support of USOPC and Toyota, sent the following US Para athletes to the camp: Sam Altshuler (Mount Airy, MD), Cole Rothenberger (Nacogdoches, TX), Mathew Weber (Beaverton, OR), Logan Watson (Moore, OK) and Zachary Pickett (Sacramento, CA). Daniel Rutenberg served as the team leader for the camp.
This was a great opportunity for the US Para athletes to experience different ways to train and improve their skills. They were able to practice with top international athletes and be mentored by the world-renowned coaches.
International experts in the camp worked with each of US Para athletes and were pleased with their hard work and talent. Two youth team members, Samuel Altshuler (14) and Cole Rothenberger (16) showed signs of the bright future in the international Para table tennis. They are on track to be the main force, together with our already decorated youth athletes Ian Seidenfeld and Jenson Van Emburgh, in the 2028 Paralympics in Los Angeles, USA.
Logan Watson is one of newer Para athletes, but his trajectory is impressive. Coaches at the camp were very impressed by Logan’s talent and believe that with the right type of training he could play important role in future competitions. Matt Weber showed his passion for the sport and worked extremely hard in the camp. He enjoyed great sparing-partner opportunities and learning new ways to train. Zachary Pickett had an opportunity like never before to play with so many different wheelchair athletes at the same camp, as he struggles to find skilled wheelchair athletes to practice with back home.
Key elements of success are training opportunities for athletes who do not have high level coaches and sparing partners at home. High level training camps, such as the one in Slovenia, gave our athletes great exposure. These training opportunities are essential for supporting our athletes.
“Our athletes had amazing experience playing with some of the best players in the world and were coached by the best Para coaches. It was nice to see that they were happy with the camp and that they are excited about future training opportunities.” said Jasna Rather, USATT Para Program Director.
Images From Slovenia