10 Nov 2016

Pressure and passion, combined with perseverance and pride; wherever you look in Riocentro Pavilion 3, that has been the situation on the first three days of play at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

The coaches react, the players react; on the morning of Sunday 11th September, the fourth day of competition, it was no different with one player in particular reacting like I have never seen him respond before.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Austria’s Krisztian Gardos raised his arms in the air, pumped his fist and turned to coach and supporters in sheer undiminished joy.

ITTF World Tour

I watched the now 41 year compete on the ITTF World Tour between 1997 and 2005; notably with younger brother, Robbie, who presently stands at no.41 on the Men’s World Rankings , he finished in runners up spot in the Men’s Doubles event in 2004 in the Chilean capital city of Santiago.

He never celebrated success on the ITTF World Tour in the same manner as he did his dramatic victory over Bulgaria’s Denislav Kodjabeshev; likewise he is no stranger to the ITTF World Tour.

Deni, Deni, Deni

Playing on home soil in 2015 in Panagyurishte, when motivated by the cries of “Deni, Deni, Deni”, in the presence of Boiko Borisov, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, he recovered from a three games to nil deficit to beat Romania’s Gabriel Postoaca (8-11, 5-11, 6-11, 11-4, 12-10, 12-10, 11-4). The contest lives long in my memory.

In Rio de Janiero, at the quarter-final stage of the Men’s Class 10 event, he mounted another recovery but this time it was thwarted; in the vital fifth game, he trailed 7-10 before levelling at 10-all. He held two match points before eventually Krisztian Gardos prevailed (5-11, 11-8, 11-2, 7-11, 7-11, 14-12).

Nervous but everybody nervous

“At 11-7, he had one serve left, I thought I must win on his service”, said Krisztian Gardos. “It was my service but I have to say that he played very well; I was nervous but everybody here is nervous, it was the same for both of us.”

The nervous tension that is released after a close match has been won at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games was epitomised in the reaction of Krisztian Gardos.

“It’s not easy at all, there many young players and I’m over 40 now”, added Krisztian Gardos; that’s young! The current 40 years is the 20 years of half a century ago!

Played high level

However, like Denislav Kodjabeshev, he has the advantage of having played high level able bodied table tennis.

“Yes that does help, you have practised and practised to be able to play at a professional level; you are aware of tactics”, continued Krisztian Gardos who was most certainly revelling in the atmosphere.

“Yesterday I played the Brazilian; the crowd was on his side, the atmosphere was tremendous”, explained Krisztian Gardos, who had emerged successful in his concluding group stage contest against Carlos Carbinatti by the very narrowest of margins (9-11, 11-7, 11-2, 9-11, 11-9).

Help from Robbie

“I spoke to Robbie before the match, we speak every day”, concluded Krisztian Gardos. “He told me to focus on what I had to do.”

Clearly he obeyed the orders of his sibling; at the semi-final stage he meets Poland’s Patryk Chojnowski, the defending champion, in the opposite half of the draw, an all-Chinese duel sees Ge Yang meet Lian Ho.


Paralympics Krisztian Gardos Denislav Kodjabeshev