11 Sep 2016

Enduring agony in the interest of sport; that is the situation for players, coaches and national officials alike on the fourth day of play, Sunday 11th September, at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The possibility of a gaining a once in a lifetime accolade looms ever closer.

It is understandable for those who are making their first appearance in the multi-sport gala but what about those who have seen it all before; those for whom a gold medal around the neck is nothing new?

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

It is no different, no different at all; just ask Poland’s Natalia Partyka, the most decorated of all.

Five games duel

A debut in Sydney in 2000 when only 11 years old; then in ensuing Paralympic Games in Athens, Beijing and London always the Women’s Singles Class 10 gold medallist!

In Rio de Janeiro, she booked her place in the final on the fourth morning of play but she was stretched the full distance by the host nation’s Bruna Alexandre; eventually the defending champion and top seed succeeded in five games (8-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-1, 11-8).

Common sense prevailed

“I was shaking before the match, I was so incredibly nervous; she was well prepared, she had nothing to lose”, said Natalia Partyka who found an answer; basically common sense prevailed!

“After losing the third game, I said to myself, just put things into perspective, it’s a game of table tennis”, added Miss Sensible. “After that I relaxed and eventually won but I must say that Bruna played well, very well.”

London avenged

Success for the defending champion but on the fourth morning of play, four London winners experienced semi-final defeats.

Notably in Men’s Singles Class 5, Norway’s Tommy Urhaug suffered at the hands of China’s Cao Ningning (11-9, 11-9, 11-9).

“We both know each other well and I came well prepared for the match today”, said Cao Ningning, who had more than one reason to celebrate; a painful defeat had been avenged.

“I lost to him three-one in London in the gold medal match and I had to settle for silver; today was the time to prove myself”, added Cao Ningning. “I had the right mind-set in the match.”

Defending champions fall

Likewise in Men’s Singles Class 6, Thailand’s Rungroj Thainyom experienced defeat at the hands of Spain’s Alvaro Valera (11-3, 11-9, 10-12, 11-3); similarly in Men’s Singles Class 10, Hungary’s Peter Palos was beaten by Belgium’s Florian Van Acker (11-6, 14-12, 14-12).

Meanwhile, in the counterpart Women’s Singles semi-finals there were defeats for Sweden’s Anna-Carin Ahlqhuist in Class 3 and Hong Kong’sWong Ka Man in Class11.

Anna-Carin Ahlqhuist was beaten by China’s Xue Juan (11-9, 3-11, 11-8, 11-8); Wong Ka Man experienced defeat at the hands of Poland’s Krystyna Siemienecka (9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 17-15).