20 May 2017

An agonising fourth place at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games when beaten by the host nation’s Iranildo Espindola and Guilherme Marcio da Costa; on the afternoon of Saturday 20th May it was a reversal of fortunes for the host nation pairing of Jan Riapos and Martin Ludrovsky.

It was not only a reversal of fortunes for the Slovakian duo; it was a reversal of fortunes for the pair they beat in the final.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

In the title deciding contest in Men’s Class 2, with the adoring crowd supporting to the hilt, Jan Riapos and Martin Ludrovsky accounted for the French partnership of Fabien Lamirault and Stéphane Molliens, the pair who had won Men’s Team Class 1-2 gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Two matches to nil was the end result but it was a hard fought two matches to nil success; the Slovakians won the doubles (11-9, 11-13, 11-5, 6-11, 11-4) before Jan Riapos overcame Fabien Lamirault (9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8) to send the host nation supporters into delirium.

“I am very very happy to win the World Champion title. We didn’t win in Rio, so winning here on home ground is very satisfying.” Martin Ludrovsky

It was a fitting end to proceedings for Jan Riapos who had combined playing a major role in the organisation of the whole tournament with being a genial host and a player.

Furthermore, Jan Riapos epitomises the ethos of Para Table Tennis; after losing in the bronze medal fixture in Rio de Janeiro, as the Brazilians were answering a plethora of questions in the mixed zone, he stopped, in true sporting fashion he offered his hand in congratulations to the pair who had denied him a place on the medal podium.

“Prior to the tournament, I had one dream which was to organize the tournament and to sing the national anthem. I am very happy that I’m able to fulfil this dream now. Two months ago, I beat Fabien at the Hungarian Open. Today we had home ground advantage and most importantly we won the doubles match; that relieved the stress on us.” Jan Riapos

Rio de Janeiro avenged, in Men’s Class 5 it was very much Bratislava repeated.

Earlier in the proceedings in the group stage, the Chinese Taipei duo of Cheng Ming-Chih and Lin Yen-Hung had beaten the Turkish pairing of Hamza Caliskan and Ali Ozturk by two matches to nil.

In the final they met again; the eventual outcome was the same but it was a much closer duel, the full five matches were needed.

Cheng Ming-Chih and Lin Yen-Hung secured the doubles (6-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-7), before Ali Ozturk beat Cheng Ming-Chih to level matters (5-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-7) and Lin Yen-Hung accounted for Hamza Caliksan to secure victory (13-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-5).

“The doubles match did not go as well as we thought; when we were two-nil down, we told ourselves to keep fighting for every point as the doubles is a very crucial match. At one-one, the situation was stressful for me but I believed that I held an advantage over the Turkish player due to my experience. We are very happy to win the World Champion title.” Lin Yen-Hung

A tense duel, the outcome gold

 Basic Referees Course in Dominican Republic
Photos: Richard Kalocsai

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