15 Sep 2016

Mental strength wins big matches; ask any player who has succeeded at the very highest level and that is the answer all will give.

It was the factor that brought the Croatian pairing of Helena Dretar Karic and Andela Muzinic success in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on the morning of Thursday 15th September.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

At the semi-final stage of the Women’s Team Class 1-3 event; they beat the Korean combination of Lee Migyu and Yoon Jiyu by two matches to nil.

However, on another day the result might well have been reversed. Notably in both contests they had to perform recoveries.

Recoveries

In the doubles contest they trailed by two games to one before recovering to give their team the perfect start (4-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-8, 11-6).

A fight back on note but it did not compare with efforts of Andela Muzinic; she performed the feat of an escapologist.

The first two games shared, in the deciding fifth game, playing Lee Migyu; Andela Muzinic trailed 2-8, before winning the next eight points and then on her second match point securing victory (11-7, 7-11, 11-4, 4-11, 11-9).

Weaker player

“I’m the weaker player”, said Helena Dretar-Karic. “In the doubles they focused on me; we had to be totally focused in order recover; we did not change anything, it was just a question of concentration.”

Doubles in wheelchair events is different to able bodied competition; pairs are not required to return the ball alternately.

Belief vital

“We kept believing, it was a team effort”, added Andela Muzinic. “In the fifth game against Lee Migyu, I knew she was under pressure, if she lost the whole match was over; we still had one more chance.”

The one more chance was not needed.

“In the fifth game I just kept believing, I have worked so hard to get here, I thought I deserved to win for all the efforts I have made”, added Andela Muzinic. “I recovered by consistently playing towards her forehand.”

First time

Success for Croatia and it was a notable success.

“It’s the first time, it’s the first time we have ever beaten Korea!” concluded Helena Dretar Karic.

Beijing revisited

A first for Korea but by no means a first for China’s Li Jing and Li Qian, the winners in 2008 in Beijing and four years ago in London, they repeated the success enjoyed eight years ago.

In Beijing they had beaten the Italian pairing of Michaela Brunelli and Clara Podda by three matches to one, in a format that comprised four singles and one doubles should the contest be extended the full distance. The one win was recorded by Mihaela Brunelli, in the opening match of the contest she had beaten Liu Jing (3-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7).

Chinese duo imperious

At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games the outcome was more definitive.

Li Jing and Liu Jing combined to secure the doubles in three straight games against Mihaela Brunelli and Giada Rossi (11-1, 11-8, 11-6), before Li Qian defeated Clara Podda to conclude matters (12-10, 11-3, 11-2).

Medal Contests

The final and the bronze medal contests are schedule for 4,30pm (local time) on Friday 16th September.

Paralympics Li Qian Giada Rossi Andela Muzinic Liu Jing Yoon Jiyu Helena Dretar Karic Clara Podda Michaela Brunelli Lee Mi-Gyu