12 Sep 2016

Winner earlier in the year in the Slovak Republic capital city of Bratislava, Florian Van Acker won the Men’s Singles Class 11 title at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on the late afternoon of Monday 12th September.

He beat Australia’s Samuel Von Einem in a full distance five games duel to secure the top prize (11-8, 16-18, 11-13, 11-5, 11-8).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Defeat for the 21 year old from Adelaide but by reaching the final he created his only special niche in his country’s sporting annals.

First player

He is the first Australian to reach the title deciding match at a Paralympic Games.

“I’m happy with silver, I have no complaints; I reached the final”, said Samuel Von Einem. “It is the best I have ever played against Florian; I was concerned before the match that I might be beaten very easily, so I’m pleased I put up a good show and it was not a whitewash!”

Tense

A brave effort and most certainly Florian Van Acker endured testing times.

 “I didn’t play that well today, I was so stressed, so tense”, said Florian Van Acker. “I was stressed before, during and at the end of the match.”

Stressed, every player in Riocentro Pavilion 3 is stressed; the coaches to an even greater degree!

Usually confident in rallies

“In the semi-final when I played against Peter Palos I played much better than today”, added Florian Van Acker. “Usually I am happy in the rallies but today against Samuel I was so nervous I couldn’t keep the ball on the table.”

Nervous but the 19 year old who was born in Zalou, Romania but now lives in the Belgium town of Langemark eventually asserted his authority.

“In the fourth game I became stronger but today I really had to push myself to overcome my nerves; winning today is a dream come true.”

First time

It is the first time that Florian Van Acker has competed in a Paralympic Games; the win adding to his list of titles. In October 2015, he was crowned European champion.

Bronze medal

Meanwhile, in the bronze medal contest it was success for Hungary, Peter Palos the winner in London, accounted for Kim Gi-Tae to secure the top prize (11-5, 13-11, 8-11, 11-4).

Paralympics Florian Van Acker Peter Palos Samuel Von einem Kim Gi-Tae