02 Aug 2019

Vital ranking points at stake as players strive to enhance their chances for places in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, on Friday 2nd August at the 2019 Para Japan Open in Tokyo, competition in the Minato Sports Centre was fierce; no quarter asked, no quarter given.

Familiar names enjoyed success but there were unexpected winners.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

In the women’s singles events Thailand’s Dararat Asayut, Japan’s Yuri Tomono and Australia’s Yang Qian defied the status quo to emerge champions.

Likewise in the men’s singles categories, Japan and Australia enjoyed success contrary to status in the respective guise of Nariaki Kakita and Ma Lin. Also, the Korea Republic’s Park Jin Cheol and Sweden’s Carl Öhgren emerged surprise winners.

Carl Öhgren, a surprise winner (Photo: Domenico Vallorini)


Competing in class 2-3, a group organised event, Darat Asayut finished ahead of Korea Republic’s Lee Migyu, the top seed. Good form from Darat Asayut, it was the same in class 8 from Yuri Tomono. She beat Josephine Medina of the Philippines (11-3, 11-3, 10-12, 11-8) to seal the title, the win coming after the latter had ousted Norway’s Aida Dahlen, the top seed (11-9, 11-9, 11-4) in the semi-finals.

Notable upsets, arguably that achieved by Yang Qian in class 10 was less of a surprise; winner of the class 9-10 title at the Asian Para Games in 2014 and the following year at the Asian Para Championships when representing China, a straight games win was recorded in the final against now fellow Australian, Melissa Tapper, the top seed (11-6, 11-4, 11-8).

The success of Yang Qian was in reality no surprise (Photo: Richard Kalocsai)


Worthy performances, the men’s singles scenario was no different. After beating Ukraine’s Oleksandr Yezyk, the top seed (11-7, 11-6, 11-8), Park Jin Cheol secured the class 1-2 title at the final expense of Frenchman Stéphane Molliens (6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-6). Similarly in class 3, Carl Ohgren recorded a semi-final success against Germany’s top seeded Thomas Brüchle (8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 19-17, 11-7), before accounting for Thailand’s Yuttajak Glinbanchuen (11-6, 19, 8-11, 9-11, 11-4) to claim gold.

Eyebrow raising wins, just as with Yang Qian, the success recorded by Ma Lin, no relation to the Beijing 2004 Olympic champion by the same name, was hardly a surprise; at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, when in Chinese colours, he departed with gold medals. In Tokyo he beat Great Britain’s Ashley Facey Thompson (11-2, 11-4, 11-7) to secure the top step of the podium.

Ma Lin success for China now for Australia (Photo: Richard Kalocsai)


Reality suggests the win secured by Ma Lin was as anticipated; in class 10 that was most certainly not the scenario. Following success against Great Britain’s Kim Daybell, the no.2 seed (11-7, 10-12, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5), Nariaki Kakita secured the title by overcoming Thailand’s Bunpot Sillapakong, the no.3 seed (11-9, 12-14, 12-10, 11-7) and very much a man in form. One round earlier he had halted the advance of the Czech Republic’s Ivan Karabec, the top seed in a contest that reflected the tension of the day; the deciding game could not have been closer (3-11, 11-8, 12-10, 7-11, 19-17).

Otherwise it was gold for the top seeds. In the men’s singles wheelchair categories Frenchman Maxime Thomas (class 4) and Norway’s Tommy Urhaug (class 5) emerged successful, as in the standing competitions did Thailand’s Rungroj Thainiyom (class 6), Great Britain’s Will Bayley (class 7) and Ukraine’s Viktor Didukh (class 8).

Maxime Thomas, the men’s singles class 4 winner (Photo: Grega Valancic / Sportida)


Meanwhile, in the women’s wheelchair events, as expected, Thailand’s Wijittra Jaion (class 4) and Korea Republic’s Jung Younga (class 5) secured gold; a situation that applied in the standing classes to Ukraine’s Maryna Lytovchenko (class 6), Kelly van Zon of the Netherlands (class 7) and Australia’s Lei Lina (class 9).

Similarly, in class 11, the category for those with a learning difficulty; it was success for the top seeds; Australia’s Samuel von Einem won the men’s singles title, the counterpart women’s gold finished in the hands of Russia’s Elena Prokofeeva.

Silver for Samuel von Einem at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games but in Tokyo it was gold (Photo: Richard Kalocsai)


Attention now turns to the team events; play in Tokyo concludes on Saturday 3rd August.

2019 Para Japan Open: Draws and Latest Results

Paralympics Para Table Tennis Tokyo

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