SA’s Theo Cogill admits tough Paralympic test: “I had my chances”

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South African para-tennis star Theo Cogill

@teamMzansi / David Vd Sandt

The South African Para-Ping-Pong Star Theo Cogill admits his Tokyo Paralympic campaign has been tough after the Capetonian lost his first two matches.

Cogill, from Bonteheuwel, is the first South African to represent the nation in the Paralympic table tennis event since 2008.

Cogill started table tennis at the age of 11 and since being classified as a para table tennis player he has continued to play against able-bodied athletes.

In 2011, Cogill was diagnosed with Brown-Sequard syndrome (an incomplete injury to the spinal cord) after being stabbed during a stroke.

“Some people didn’t believe I qualified,” said Cogill, who also represented SA at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“A lot of people in Bonteheuwel are excited to see what’s going on and the fact that I’m here makes them proud.”

Cogill’s Paralympic debut did not have the best start with losses in his first two Group D games.

In his opener, Cogill lost in straight sets to Rio bronze medalist Krisztian Gardos of Austria 11-5, 11-9, 11-7.

Then Thursday, the 34-year-old put on a much better performance, but faltered against Brazilian Carlos Carbinatti (11-8, 14-12, 11-5).

Cogill says he did his best but wrestled in foreign conditions at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

“It’s quite difficult to play in these conditions. It’s the biggest stage after all with all the nerves,” Cogill said Thursday.

“I think I just ran out of momentum. In the first and second set I had my chances, but I just struggled a little with the conditions in the hall. my best.

“It’s very important to represent my country. It was an honor to be here and to adapt.”

The South Africans’ next and final match in Group D will be against Frenchman Mateo Boheas on Friday at 6:40 am SA.

Cogill hopes to improve but says it will be difficult to advance further in Tokyo.

“Now with my last game it’s quite difficult,” he said.

“It was actually the death squad with some high-ranking players, but for me it’s just about going back and thinking about what I need to improve to move forward.”


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