by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
At the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, when only 11 years old, she was the youngest competitor on duty; that is in the whole scenario, not only in the table tennis events.
Four years later in Athens when 15 years old she won gold to become the youngest ever table tennis player to secure a Paralympic Games title.
Can anyone compare?
Now in Rio de Janeiro she has won for a fourth consecutive time; no table tennis player can match that feat. In fact is there any Paralympian in any discipline who can compare?
Furthermore, she is only 27 years old; one wonders what records she may set.
Undoubtedly in the final in Rio de Janeiro, she underlined the fact that she may well set records which may never be equalled, she was in no mood to relinquish her crown.
“Playing Yang Qian it’s been close in the past; four years ago in London it was five games; at the World Championships two years ago in Beijing it was five games again and she had one match point”, explained Natalia Partyka. “Today I was prepared, I was ready and I played the best I have played in the whole tournament.”
At the London 2012 Olympic Games Yang Qian kept biting at the heels (11-5, 11-13, 11-9, 7-11, 11-4); at the 2014 World Championships she led by two games to one (7-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 12-10).
“Today, the second game was vital, she had game points, I had game points; the whole match rested on that game; in the third game I made a really good start, I became more and more confident”, added Natalia Partyka. “Yang Qian is very good playing close to the table, if I play fast against her, it is really difficult; I have to play slowly, make sure I spin the first ball.”
Natalia Partyka had worked out the tactics; a most impressive win was recorded and a record set.
Bronze for Brazil
Success for Poland; there was also success for the host nation; Bruna Alexandre beat Denmark’s Sophie Walloe, to claim bronze (11-2, 13-11, 11-8).
“I was both nervous and confident before the match; it was a big match but I’d played really well in the semi-final against Natalia so that gave me confidence”, said Bruna Alexandre. “I think today I was more stable, more consistent than Sophie; also I tried to change the speed at which I played, keep changing the spin on the ball, changing the direction of my play.”
Team events commence
The individual events over, the team events commence; play conludes on Saturday 17th September.