Progress to the third day of action at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games could well be the avowed goal of Anastassiya Lavrova.
On debut in the prestigious multi-sport gathering, should she achieve the feat, it will be a landmark for Kazakhstan.
Competing in the women’s singles event in the Metropolitan Gymnasium, she becomes the third player to represent the world’s largest landlocked country in the table tennis events at an Olympic Games.
In 2008 in Beijing, Marine Shumakova was on women’s singles duty for Kazakhstan in the Peking University Gymnasium; in Rio de Janeiro, Kirill Gerassimenko competed in the men’s singles; like Anastassiya Lavrova he is listed on the Tokyo entry list.
On their debuts, both Marine Shumakova and Kirill Gerassimenko experienced opening match defeats. In Beijing, Marine Shumakova lost to Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska (11-8, 11-6, 11-6, 11-6), in Rio de Janeiro, Kirill Gerassimenko was beaten by the defensive skills of Hungary’s Adam Pattantyus (11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 11-9).
Reach the third day and Anastassiya Lavrova will have surpassed previous Olympic achievements gained by colleagues.
It will be time for celebration and for another; Monday 26th July will be her 26th birthday.
Moreover, it will be a reward for dint of effort; few experienced a more exacting path to Tokyo.
Earlier this year in March in Doha, at the World qualification tournament, Anastassiya Lavrova was beaten in her opening contest by Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska (11-8, 11-6, 11-6, 11-6).
Soon after, she was on duty at the Asia Olympic Qualification event, it was one tough test after another, at one stage Tokyo appearing a distant dream.
Present in the Central Asia regional stage; in the group phase she beat Iran’s Shima Safaei in six games (11-5, 11-3, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9), before by a similar margin losing to Uzbekistan’s Rimma Gufranova (7-11, 11-6, 10-12, 11-3, 11-7, 11-3).
Second place the outcome, progress to the main draw, the tension continued. She overcame a further Iranian in the guise of Neda Shahsavari, in action in both London and Rio de Janeiro, by the very narrowest of margins (11-6, 7-11, 7-11, 3-11, 11-7, 11-4, 12-10), to reserve her place in the final where Markhabo Magdieva awaited.
Yet another tension packed contest followed, yet again Anastassiya Lavrova succeeded in six games (11-8, 12-10, 11-13, 10-12, 11-8, 11-9).
A place in Tokyo booked; in Japan’s capital city can she take Kazakhstan to new heights? The evidence from Doha suggests more than a chance, in tough contests she responds.
Editor: Ian Marshall