Sweden’s reigning Paralympic gold medalist Anna-Carin Ahlquist opened her Rio women’s class 3 singles play today against Mexico’s Maria Edith Sigala Lopez, winning in three straight sets.
Ahlquist had an easy first game victory of 11 – 1 that took only 3 minutes. Sigala Lopez kept things much more competitive in the second match, holding the Swede to a score of 11 – 8 despite losing. Sigala Lopez gave an early serious challenge to the Swede in the third set with a 1 – 2 lead, and then holding on to the bringing the score to 2 – 4. Ahlquist then battled back to bring the score to 4 – 4, before conceding a pair of points to the Mexican. The Swede managed to overcome that deficit to bring the score to 8 – 6 with her largest lead of the match before finally putting the game away and finishing with a score of 11 – 7.
Ahlquist is also a returning Paralympic gold medalist in the women’s team classes 4-5 event, with the same event on the program for her in Rio. She made her national team for Sweden in 2007 at a competition in Slovenia. The following year, she qualified for the 2008 Summer Paralympics and finished with a pair of fifth place finishes.
40-year-old Sigala Lopez is also a returning London Paralympian, looking to improve on her ninth place finish at those Games. She first took up the sport as a 23-year-old in Mexico, and considers her Swedish competitor to be one of her sporting heroes. One of her best international performances was winning gold at least year’s Parapan American Games in Toronto in both the team and singles event.
Sigala Lopez’s next match in group play is against Great Britain’s Sara Head on Saturday. Ahlquist is next in action in action in group play this afternoon when she also plays Great Britain’s Sara Head.