18 Sep 2016

Defeat in the title deciding contest four years ago in London, when partnering Vincent Boury; at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on Saturday 17th September it was the sweet taste of success for Stéphane Molliens.

He won the vital third and deciding match that saw France win gold in Men’s Singles Class1-2.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

He beat Cha Sooyong in the contest against Korea; he won a tense four games duel (11-5, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9), after having in the opening match of the engagement partnered Fabien Lamirault to doubles success against Kim Kyungmook and Cha Sooyong (11-6, 11-7, 11-5).

Surprise result

Sandwiched in between Kim Kyungmook had beaten Fabien Lamirault in a close five games duel decided by the very narrowest of margins (14-12, 15-13, 3-11, 8-11, 11-9); the result somewhat of a surprise.

Earlier in the week, Fabien Lamirault won the Men’s Singles Class 2 event and is listed at the top of the Men’s Class 2 World Rankings; Kim Kyungmook is at no.8.

“We have a big leader in Fabien, for the past two years he hasn’t lost”, said Christophe Durand. “Also Stéphane is very good in team events; he has won so many important matches in recent times; I think now since London our team is much stronger.”

Experience counted

In Riocentro Pavilion 3, he won when it mattered; when the pressure mounted.

“It was close, very close; I think the main reason I won was experience”, said Stéphane Molliens, now 41 years old and a valued member of the French team since making his debut in Italy in 2001.

“Cha Sooyong is a good player; he is top ten in the world”, added Stéphane Molliens who is presently named at no.4 in the Men’s Class 2 global order, as opposed to Cha Sooyong who is at no.7 and without doubt proved a most worthy adversary.

Too eager

“At the break after the second game I told Stéphane to keep putting the ball on the table”, explained Christophe Durand. “He was too eager to win the point quickly.”

The sense of urgency was understandable; gold was in sight.

Pandemonium

Success for France was greeted with loud applause from their faithful fans; for Brazil when Iranildo Espindola beat Martin Ludrovsky in tense five games contest (11-6, 3-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8) to secure a two-one victory over France, the roof almost blew off Rioentro Pavilion 3!

“I had missed out in the singles, I didn’t qualify”, sighed Iranidlo Espindola; inhis Men’s Singles Class 2 group, he had finished in third place behind Poland’s Rafal Czuper and China’s Cao Yanming.

Struggled and fought

“It was a big challenge to win a medal in the team event, we struggled, we fought to the very end”, said Iranildo Espindola. “I’ve won national titles, continental titles and medals at the Para Pan American Games but to win a medal at the Paralympic Games, this is the big one, the biggest of all!”

Success and it was success against the country that had won gold in London; Jan Riapos had partnered Ratislav Revucky to the title.

“Definitely to beat the London gold medallists makes today extra special”, added Iranildo Espindola who had no doubt about one of the reasons for the success.

Energy

“The crowd won the match; they gave us energy”, concluded Iranildo Espindola.

Victory for Iranildo Espindola came after he had partnered Guilherme Mariao de Costa to doubles success against Jan Riapos and Ratislav Revucky (11-3, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9) and Jan Riapos had levelled matters by overcoming Guilherme Mariao de Costa (11-3, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9).

Best Ever

Notably it was the second bronze medal of the day and the fourth medal overall for the host nation.

In the morning session of play, Bruna Alexandre and Danielle Rauen had combined to secure bronze in Women’s Team Class 9-10; in the individual events, Bruna Alexandre had clinched the same colour in Women’s Singles Class10; Israel Stroh had been the Men’s Singles Class 7 silver medallist.

Now the grand total is five. The only other instance of Brazil winning a medal is the table tennis events at a Paralympic Games was in 2008 in Beijing when Welder Knaf and the late Luis Algacir Silva won silver in Men’s Team Class 3.

Following the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, the Brazilian Table Tennis Federation assumed control of Para Table Tennis in the country; the results of their efforts were witnessed in Riocentro Pavilion three in 2016.

Eight years of dedication was rewarded.

Paralympics Iranildo Espindola Stéphane Molliens