by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
It was a most impressive display from Mao Jingdian.
“I was a little bit nervous before the match, but once it started I wasn’t; I did a good job today”, said Mao Jingdian. “I am really excited and I want to call my dad but I know because of the time difference that he will be sleeping.”
However, in the modern world of rapid communication that is a small problem.
“I have sent him a text; I am looking forward to going home and eating homemade food made by my dad and I will then go back to school”, added Mao Jingdian, who was clearly well prepared for events in Rio de Janeiro.
Determined and confident
“I wrote that I must be “determined and confident” on the palm of my hand before my first match and I looked at it again last night but it wasn’t there anymore so I wrote it again to remind myself and looked at it before the match today”, explained Mao Jingdian. “I knew I had to have confidence in myself, I became so engaged in the match I really started to enjoy it, I will go back and have some noodles.”
Even more impressive
Impressive but the more impressive performance was that extolled by Josephine Medina of the Philippines; an agonising fourth place in London, it was one step higher in Rio de Janeiro.She beat Germany’s Julianne Wolf, the silver medallist at the 2015 European Para Championships in the Danish town of Vejle, to secure third place.
In a performance that replicated that of Mao Jingdian, she emerged successful in three straight games (11-5, 11-6, 11-7).
“My father was on the national team. I was sick as I was a polio victim and table tennis is my therapy. I used to compete with able-bodied athletes and qualified for the national team but they told me you cannot be in the national team for the able-bodied as you are disabled. The rejection has become my inspiration and I train hard and I just want to prove that disability is not a hindrance in achieving your goal. It’s just an instrument in reaching success in your life.”
“I dedicate it to my father. He died in 2004, which was the lowest point of my life. He was working in Saudi Arabia but died, they said of a heart attack. He coached in the Royal Saudi Air Force.”
“You should be going to the airport to meet someone, but I had to go to meet my father’s coffin. I didn’t have the chance to tell my papa that I was playing internationally. It is quite sad, but I know he believed in me. I know he is still near me.” Josephine Medina
“I have been praying to God that one day the Philippines would win a medal; the last time in London I came so close I finished in fourth place”, said Josephine Medina. “Here the competition has been really tough but as I told you before when I beat Aida Dahlen and qualified for the main draw, for God nothing is impossible!”
The message from Josephine Medina was crystal clear.
“When you play you must believe and you must give absolutely everything; now the Philippines will not go return home without a medal”, concluded Josephine Medina. “Today I did not win for myself I won for my team, for my country, I won for the Philippines!”
It is the first the Philippines has won a medal in the table tennis events at a Paralympic Games.