by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In England’s capital city he had departed the ExCeL Exhibition Centre with two medals; the difference with Rio de Janeiro was the neither medal was coloured gold.
At the semi-final stage of the Men’s Singles Class 2 event he was beaten by the champion elect, the Slovak Republic’s Jan Riapos (11-9, 11-6, 11-4), before in the bronze medal contest emerging successful in five games in opposition to Russia’s Sergey Poddoubnyy (11-6, 7-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-5).
Later, in the Men’s Team Class1-2 it was one step higher; lining up alongside Vincent Boury and Stéphane Molliens, the silver medal was secured.
Consistent progress, consistent play
One step higher as matters in London progressed, the climb continued in Rio de Janeiro.
“Today my game was solid, I felt that I played consistently; from the backhand I was able to control the play, block the ball well and create angles”, explained Fabien Lamirault who had a very astute mentor sitting courtside.
Similar to London, Christophe Durand is one of the French coaches on duty in Rio de Janeiro; he sat courtside advising Fabien Lamirault. Notably he won gold in Men’s Singles Class 8 in Sydney and in Men’s Singles Class 4-5 eight years later in Beijing.
“Christophe is a great help, he has a great deal of experience”, explained Fabien Lamirault. “He keeps things calm and of course he has a great deal of knowledge; working with him has given me more confidence.”
Reversal of fortunes
Meanwhile, in the bronze medal match in Men’s Singles Class 9 it was a reversal of fortunes for France; Stéphane Molliens was beaten by the Czech Republic’s Jiri Suchanek (11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 11-7).
Success for Jiri Suchanek; the bronze medal, he depart Riocentro Pavilion 3 a happy man.
It was his first ever Paralympic Games gold medal