by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In the crucial contests, Borislava Peric-Rankovic beat China’s Zhang Miao (11-4, 6-11, 7-11, 11-3, 11-6), before in a similarly hard fought five games contest Nada Matic recovered from a two games to nil deficit to overcome Great Britain’s Sue Gilroy (12-14, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6).
Notably four years ago in London, Borislava Peric-Rankovic had beaten Zhang Miao in a similarly hard fought duel (6-11, 13-11, 3-11, 11-7, 11-7), before losing to Zhu Ying, also from China, on the final (11-8, 11-6, 11-4).
“It is a very big day for our country, not only for me and Matic but also for Palikuca, winning bronze earlier; that is three medals in table tennis, a good, good, good, good day”, smiled Borislava Peric-Rankovic.
In the contest that commenced the fifth day of action in Riocentro Pavlion 3, Mitar Palikuca had beaten Norway’s Tommy Urhaug to secure bronze in Men’s Singles Class 5 (4-11, 14-12, 11-6, 11-9).
Suffered spinal injuries
Both Borislava Peric-Rankovic and Nada Matic started playing table tennis in 2003; the introduction of Nada Matic to Para Table Tennis being the result of a most unfortunate accident.
She suffered spinal injuries when in 1999 she was travelling in a bus full of civilians that mistakenly bombed by NATO forces in Kosovo.
A heart breaking experience but Nada Matic is most positive about the incident.
“It is something I have left behind to my past, I try not to think about it now and just live a good life”, said Nada Matic. “Today I had strength, I have a big wish to give my maximum in everything in matches, in life, in everything I do; I started table tennis because I thought this sport was a good thing for disabled people.”
It was in the sporting arena that Nada Matic met Borislava Peric-Rankovic
“We met at table tennis and have formed a big friendship; we were together from the start we play every day together”, added Nada Matic. “It started for fun and now we’re like professional sports people.”
Professional and it was a professional approach that brought success in Rio de Janeiro.
“We have not yet realised what we did”, stressed Nada Matic. “I wasn’t watching Borislava, I only heard her voice; then I saw on the big screen the score and that she had come back to win; it inspired me to do the same.”
Inspired and no doubt inspired for other reasons.
“We also both thought of our children at home watching us on their televisions”, concluded Nada Matic.
It was for Borislava Peric-Rankovic it was her first ever Paralympic Games gold medal, her third overall. In addition to four years ago in London, she was also the silver medallist in Women’s Singles Class 4 in 2008 in Beijing.
Meanwhile, for Nada Matic, it was her first of any colour.