by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Each is a reigning Paralympic Games gold medallist, a World champion and a European champion.
All three appear on the entry list for the forthcoming 2017 European Para Championships; play starts in Lasko, Slovenia on Thursday 28th September and concludes on Wednesday 4th October.
Undoubtedly, Fabien Lamirault will face severe competition from Poland’s Rafal Czuper and the Czech Republic’s Jiri Suchanek, the respective silver and bronze medallists last year in Rio de Janeiro. Similarly, for Kelly van Zon, Turkey’s Kubra Korkut is on duty; the player she beat in the Rio de Janeiro final.
Stern tests await; for Natalia Partyka, her closest rival may well prove to be Denmark’s Sophie Walloe, the player she beat two years ago in the final in Veijle. However, with the greatest of respect to all, Natalia Partyka is quite simply at a totally different level; my mind flashes back to earlier this year in February when, at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open, she beat China’s Wu Yang, the player who loses to foreign adversaries once every blue moon!
Meanwhile, seeking to join the illustrious group of those who own all three titles is Great Britain’s Will Bayley; competing in Men’s Singles Class 7, he won at the 2014 World Para Championships in Beijing, last year in Rio de Janeiro but at the 2015 European Para Championships in Veijle he was beaten in the final by Jean-Paul Montanus of the Netherlands.
Similarly there are Rio 2017 Paralympic Games gold medallists who are seeking to depose reigning champions.
Denmark’s Peter Rosenmeier lost to Spain’s Alvaro Valera in Veijle two years ago in Veijle but last year in Rio de Janeiro, he turned the tables.
Somewhat similarly, the names of Turkey’s Abdullah Ozturk and Ukraine’s Natalia Kosmina appear on the Lasko entry list; in Rio de Janeiro Abdullah Ozturk won Men’s Singles Class 4, Natalia Kosmina was crowned the Women’s Singles Class 11 champion. The current holders of the respective European titles are Frenchman Maxime Thomas and Russia’s Elena Prokofeeva.
Notably the only title is not defended in Lasko, in Women’s Singles Class 6; the name of Croatia’s Sandra Paovic does not appear on the entry list.
Overall a totally of 273 players are scheduled to compete at the 2017 European Para Championships, representing 31 countries; it is a slight increase on two years ago when the number of countries was the same but players totalled 273 in number.
2017 European Para Championships: Forthcoming matches and latest results