by Ian Marshall, Editor
The winners of the respective men’s singles and women’s singles events qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Notably, Borislava Peric-Rankovic, Natalia Partyka and Laurens Devos hold all three major titles at the moment; in addition to succeeding in Rio de Janeiro, they won at the 2017 European Championships and at the 2018 World Championships, both events being held in Lasko, Slovenia.
Applicants to join list
Success in Helsingborg and four more players in the guise of Fabien Lamirault, Peter Rosenmeier, Florian Van Acker and Kelly Van Zon will join the list. All missed out two years ago in Lasko. In the men’s singles event, competing in class 2, Fabien Lamirault was beaten at the quarter-final stage by Slovakia’s Martin Ludrovsky, in the same round in class 6, Peter Rosenmeier suffered at the hands of Romania’s Bobi Simion. Likewise in class 11, one round later, it was defeat for Florian Van Acker when opposing Frenchman Lucas Creange.
Similarly, in the women’s singles event, Kelly van Zon departed in the penultimate round; she was beaten by Turkey’s Kubra Korkut.
Aiming for improvement
Seeking an improvement on two years ago in Lasko, it is the same for a further four players in Helsingborg who in 2018 became world champions.
In the men’s singles events, in class 7 Spain’s Jordi Morales was beaten by Jean-Paul Montanus of the Netherlands in round one. Likewise in class 8, Great Britain’s Ross Wilson experienced a semi-final defeat at the hands of Ukraine’s Viktor Didukh. Meanwhile, in the women’s singles competitions, in class 6 Maryna Lytovchenko departed at the semi-final stage, beaten by Poland’s Katarzyn Marszal; in class 11, Russia’s Elena Prokofeva suffered in the final, she lost to colleague Natalia Kosmina.
Meanwhile, for Turkey’s Abdullah Ozturk and Great Britain’s Will Bayley, gold medallists at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, they will be seeking an improvement on two years ago. At the 2017 European Para Championships, competing in class 4, Abdullah Ozturk was beaten in the final by Frenchman Maxime Thomas; in class 7, Will Bayley experienced a semi-final defeat at the hands of Ukraine’s Mykhaylo Popov.
“I’ve played really well this season. I’m really enjoying my table tennis and I’m a bit more relaxed. It is going to be a tough tournament so I’ll take it one match at a time but I’m playing well and I’m happy with my game. It’s been such a long time since I won the Europeans, it seems like a lifetime ago, and it would be so nice to win it again. I’ve come up short a couple of times and lost in two finals and a semi-final, since I won it, so I’ve had some good runs. It would mean the world to me to go all the way but I’m going there to enjoy it and have fun, I think that is when I play my best table tennis.” Will Bayley
Furthermore, there has been an added preparation to Will Bayley’s training programme; as soon as the European Championships have finished he will appear in his first live performance of Strictly Come Dancing.
“I really think it is going to improve me a lot when I’m playing table tennis, because already I’m becoming more aware of my balance and my movement and I’m getting stronger in my core. When I’m playing table tennis now I’m thinking more about my balance and the way I stand and using my body to help me in my shots. It is helping me understand my body more and that can only help with table tennis.” Will Bayley
Aiming for fourth gold
Seeking to win the European title for the first time since 2011, for colleague Rob Davies, likewise a gold medallist in Rio de Janeiro, he is seeking a fourth consecutive European title.
“I’m happier with the way I’m playing this season but I’ve still got a way to go. It’s nice to pick up a few medals but for me it is all about building for Tokyo now. I’m proud to have won three European titles but I don’t want to think about it too much. I’m just going out there to enjoy it; I play my best when I’m enjoying my table tennis and hopefully the results will take care of themselves. Of course it is special to be going for my fourth; I’m proud of the three I’ve already got and another one would be nice but I’m not putting all my hopes on it.” Rob Davies
Overall, 312 players, 217 men and 95 women will compete in Helsingborg.
2019 ITTF European Para Championships: Latest Draws and Results