by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
At the semi-final stage of Men’s Singles Class 7, Israel Stroh beat China’s Yan Shuo by the very narrowest of five game margins (11-7, 5-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9).
It meant the 30 year old had booked his place in the final but it meant much more; he had created history.
The win meant that he became the first player ever from Brazil to reach a singles final at a Paralympic Games.
“I just don’t know, it’s amazing”, said a bemused Israel Stroh who collapsed and lay prone on the floor after winning the last point,
“It was such a tough match and the crowd was going crazy”, added Israel Stroh. “Actually I tried to block out the noise from the crowd because I was worried I would become so excited and make mistakes.”
Celebration upon celebration
Excited, no-one was more excited than Alaor Azevedo, the President of the Brazilian Table Tennis Confederation and Victor Lee, who will be shortly returning to the Confederation, to assume Paralympic duties.
They leapt in the air and hugged each other in celebration; it was a special moment for Brazil.
Now an intriguing final await; Great Britain’s Will Bayley, the top seed and reigning World champion is the adversary in the gold medal contest.
Notably, they met in their very first match of the tournament when Israel Stroh had won in four games (10-12, 11-9, 11-8, 11-7).
“It’s like a dream, to play in the final and to play the World champion, to play the favourite”, concluded Israel Stroh.
At the same time as the earth shook, owing to the efforts of Israel Stroh; Will Bayley overcame Spain’s Jordi Morales (11-13, 11-1, 11-3, 15-13).
“After the first game I got used to the way he played”, said Will Bayley. “In the fourth game I was becoming nervous as he changed his tactics but then on the big points he went back to the way he had played earlier.”
It was a tense contest and one which was difficult to predict.
“We played in Italy earlier this year and he beat me but in Italy I won”, explained Will Bayley. “Yes, Israel in the final, I thought it could happen, he has played so well; I’m really looking forward to the match, the crowd, the atmosphere, it is a great chance, I’m really excited about the match!”
Book the date
The match is scheduled for 10.45 am on Monday 12th September; don’t miss it, it promises to be an absolute cracker!