by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Competing in Class 7, Mykhaylo Popov, the no.3 seed, accounted for Will Bayley at the semi-final stage (11-5, 11-2, 4-11, 7-11, 11-7) and thus ended the ambitions the British player in holding the three major title at the same time. In 2014 in Beijing, Will Bayley had been crowned World champion, last year at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, he won gold.
“He is number three in the World and he has been European champion before so he is a great player but that is sport and that is table tennis and anything can happen on the day. He got on top of me and deserved to win today for sure. I knew when I was two-nil down it would be a mountain to climb but I started to climb it and come back but I just couldn’t get to the top. I gave it everything and it was close in the end. I have reached the final in every major from 2011 to 2016 and although the bronze is not what I wanted, to get another major medal makes me proud. I need to look forward now towards the World Championships and try and improve again.” Will Bayley
Success against expectations in the penultimate round, it was the same in a gripping final; Mykhaylo Popov accounted for colleague, Maksym Nikolenko, the top seed, the secure the title (9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9). Earlier at the semi-final stage, Maksym Nikolenko had beaten, Jean-Paul Montanus of the Netherlands, the no.6 seed and defending champion (4-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7).
A hard fought win for Mykhaylo Popov; in Class 11, the category for players with learning difficulties, at the final hurdle, it was the same for Peter Palos, the no.2 seed He needed the full five games to beat Frenchman Lucas Creange, the no.3 seed (11-13, 11-6, 10-12, 11-4, 11-6).
Runners up spot for Lucas Creange, it had been the same two years ago in Vejle when losing to Belgium’s Florian Van Acker. In Lasko, Lucas Creange gained a degree of retribution, he beat Florian van Acker, the top seed and Rio 2016 Olympic Games gold medallist in four games at the semi-final stage (11-13, 11-6, 10-12, 11-4, 11-6).
Meanwhile, in the remaining Men’s Singles standing categories, the defending champions all enjoyed success.
Alvaro Valera accounted for Great Britain’s David Wetherill, the no.3 seed (11-8, 11-4, 5-11, 11-7) to secure the Class 6 title; the British player having impressed. One round earlier he had overcome Romania’s Bobi Simion (11-7, 9-11, 9-11, 14-12) the quarter-final winner in opposition to Denmark’s Peter Rosenmeier, the no.2 seed and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games gold medallist (9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 12-10).
“Even in the game I won in the final I didn’t feel comfortable. He made it really difficult for me today. I wanted to make it difficult for him and I didn’t really do that to be honest. I just had nothing left in the tank. I tried my best but with hindsight I should have taken my chances a bit more in the previous rounds as I made it more difficult for myself than it should have been. At the end of the day I got the wins but sometimes over the course of a tournament you have your ups and downs and you need to conserve your body a little bit. It was disappointing not to go into the final feeling fresh because I would have been a lot more confident than I was but take nothing away from Alvaro, he did the business.” David Wetherill
Notably for 34 year old Alvaro Valera, commencing with the very first European Para Championships staged in Frankfurt in 2001 when playing in Class 8, it was the sixth Men’s Singles title for Alvaro Valera.
“I admit I am getting old; therefore, the feeling of being still able to prepare and win despite my age is great.” Alvaro Valera.
A sixth European Men’s Singles title for Alvaro Valera, a goal for which Viktor Didukh and Laurens Devos can both aim.
In Lasko at the final hurdle Viktor Didukh beat Ukrainian colleague, Viktor Ma, the no.6 seed (11-6, 11-8, 11-3) to win Class 8; Laurens Devos secured the Class 9 title courtesy of success against Sweden’s Daniel Gustafsson (11-8, 4-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6).
Play in the individual events over, attention now turns the team competitions; play concludes on Wednesday 4th October.
2017 European Para Championships: Forthcoming matches and latest results
2017 European Championships: Latest News
2017 European Championships: Daily Bulletin
2017 European Championships: Live Stream