by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Motivated by their semi-final success against China, the Korean pairing of Kim Junggil and Kim Younggun made the ideal start in the gold medal engagement; they beat Cheng Ming-Chieh and Lin Yen-Hung in four games (11-7, 14-12, 6-11, 11-7).
Immediately, Chinese Taipei responded, Cheng Ming-Chih overame Kim Junggil to level matters (11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5); the fate of Korea was in the hands of Choi Ilsang. He duly accepted the responsibility; he overcame Lin Yen-Heng in three straight games (11-7, 11-7, 11-3).
Accustomed to style
“Before the match I was nervous, the result rested on my shoulders but Li Yen-Hsing uses long pimpled rubber on the backhand. I happy playing against that style; I kept trying to change the speed of my play in order to force him to make mistakes”, explained Choi Il Sang. “We are all so happy we have won today; in London we were the silver medallists; I have no words to describe how I feel at the present moment.”
Moment of history
Success for Korea, soon after there was success for Turkey and a moment of history; Abdullah Ozturk and Ali Ozturk became the first ever brothers to win a medal of any colour in a table tennis event at a Paralympic Games.
Together they won the doubles against Guo Xingyuan and Cao Ningning (11-13, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7). Immediately, China replied, Guo Xingyuan beat Ali Ozturk (4-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7); before Abdullah Ozturk became the pride of Turkey, he beat Cao Ningning in a second full distance contest to seal the bronze medal (5-11, 11-3, 12-10, 6-11, 11-7).
“Really, it’s my first Paralympic Games, everything here has been so exciting; I’ve been motivated by the occasion”, said Ali Ozturk. “I need more experience in such tournaments; to play here and represent Turkey and win a medal, it has just been a great honour.”
A great honour and the man who made the honour that extra sweet was elder brother Abdullah Ozturk.
Higher class player
“I thought we were a little unlucky to lose to Chinese Taipei in the semi-final and today against China we could have won two-nil; winning the doubles was important”, said Abdullah Ozturk. “At one-one I had to play a higher class player, I’m Class 4 and he is Class 5.”
Furthermore, he faced the man who had won the Men’s Singles Class 5 title earlier in the week, it was the battle of the champions; Abdullah Ozturk had won Class 4. The odds were with Cao Ningning, he was the player with the less severe disability, Abdullah Ozturk had other ideas.
“I tried to play with logic; think out every point and make changes”, explained Abdullah Ozturk. “Sure I was nervous before the match, I was tense but the supporters, the fans pulled me through.”
Adbullah Ozturk succeeded. He had a bronze medal to add to his gold earlier in the week; proud moments for Turkey, also for Korea and Chinese Taipei, Paralympic medals.