16 Jan 2017

Germany’s Thomas Schmidberger has been named the Allianz Athlete of the Month for December 2016 by the International Paralympic Committee; the award is the result of his gold medal winning success at last month’s United States Para Table Tennis US Open in Las Vegas.

He won the Men’s Singles Class 3 event beating colleague Thomas Brüchle in the final (12-10, 11-8, 17-19, 13-11), before the two finalists combined to secure the Men’s Team Class 4-5 title.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Furthermore, they won the title in style; they did not surrender a single individual match en route to gold.

In the final against Chinese Taipei, a doubles success against Lin Gow Ching and Ko Kun-Nan (11-8, 11-9, 11-5) was followed by victory by Thomas Brüchle in opposition to Lin Gow-Ching (11-6, 10-12, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5) to seal the victory.

The success in Las Vegas followed success earlier in the year when Thomas Schmidberger was the silver medallist in Men’s Singles Class 3, losing to China’s Feng Panfeng in the final (11-5, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8), prior to, as in Las Vegas, partnering Thomas Brüchle to a podium finish.

Silver was their lot in Rio de Janeiro but they came very close to gold. In the final against China’s Feng Panfeng and Zhao Ping, they secured the doubles (11-9, 11-8, 11-6), before Thomas Schmidberger was beaten once again by Feng Panfeng (11-5, 11-9, 11-4) and Thomas Brüchle, after winning the first two games, lost to Zhai Xiang (9-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-5).

Impressive in Rio de Janeiro and Las Vegas, the margin by which he won the Allianz award was also most impressive.

In the public polls, he gained 52.02 per cent of the votes. Next in line came French Para alpine skier Arthur Bauchet, with 33.19 per cent; followed by United States Para ice hockey player Steve Cash with 9.07 per cent. Para Nordic skier Oksana Masters with 4.18 per cent and the wheelchair tennis player Jiske Griffioen from the Netherlands, 1.53 per cent, completed the list.

Notably, it is the second month in succession that a table tennis player has won the Allianz top prize; on November it was won by Chile’s Matias Nicolas Pino Lorca.

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Paralympics Para Table Tennis Thomas SCHMIDBERGER