by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Deciding contests in each category determined on adjacent tables; an all Hong Kong bronze medal contest witnessed success for Ng Mui Wui; she accounted for Wong Ka Man (15-13, 16-14, 11-8), the gold medallist four years ago in London.
Cool, calm and collected
“I feel calm, I tried not to think of the match as a big final, it is really difficult for me to understand what has happened”, said Natalia Kosmina. “I have worked hard and I was ready; I wanted to win for myself but also I wanted to win for the team.”
A first for Natalia Kosmina; in the immediate ensuing contest, it was a third and a third in a row for China’s Fan Pengfeng.
Three in a row
The winner in Beijing and London, the 26 year old from Pizhou was in no mood for charity in the hotbed of Riocentro Pavilion 3.
He overcame Germany’s Thomas Schmidberger in four games (11-5, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8) to secure the top prize.
Anything can happen
“Before the match, I told myself it’s the gold medal match and anything could happen, so I have to let go everything and just play my best”, said Fan Pengfeng. “After having won the first game easily, I kind of let my guard down coming into the second game; I was just trying to put the ball back and playing strategically.”
Experienced the 24 year German responded
“Schmidberger also made some changes to his game, including changing his pace, that made it difficult for me and I wasn’t able to play well to that”, added Fan Pengfeng.
“In the fourth game, I thought that I was going to lose and was even prepared for a fifth game when I was 1-5 down but I told myself that no matter what I shouldn’t give up, take one point at a time slowly; I didn’t expect that I would win that game.”
Expected or not he won and has now surely asserted himself amongst the leading names in Para Table Tennis.
“It’s been four years since London; many things have changed, including my opponents, so I’m trying to find the feeling of playing in the Paralympics”, added Feng Pengfeng. “After winning the previous two Paralympic Games, it puts on more pressure on me, especially with adapting to the venue, lighting and the change of the ball; here were times where I started to doubt myself.”
In Rio de Janeiro he was in no doubt; a most worthy champion.
Bronze for France
Disappointment for Germany, it was the same in the bronze medal contest. Thomas Bruchle was beaten by Frenchman, Thomas Merrien (14-12, 7-11, 11-8, 11-13, 11-5).