by Ian Marshall, Editor
Last September, Natalia Partyka booked her place in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games by emerging successful at the 2019 European Para Championships in Helsingborg, Sweden; it meant she qualified for the quadrennial event for the sixth consecutive time.
She made her debut in 2000 in Sydney when only 11 years old, becoming the youngest athlete ever to compete in a Paralympic Games; commencing in 2004 in Athens, always she has won the women’s singles class 10 title. Additionally, alongside Karolina Pek in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, she added the women’s team class 6-10 title.
Success in Gondomar meant she reserved her place in her fourth consecutive Olympic Games, like Li Qian being present ever since 2008 in Beijing; thus the total is 10!
Ahead of the field
Furthermore, if you compare those who have competed in both Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, Natalia Partyka is ahead of the field.
In terms of appearances at Paralympic Games, she now matches Hungarian fencer Pal Szekeres and surpasses Italian archer Paola Fantato.
Pal Szekeres competed in six Paralympic Games from 1992 in Barcelona to 2012 in London, Paola Fantato in five from 1988 in Seoul to 2004 in Athens. However, each competed in only one Olympic Games, Pal Szekeres 1988 in Seoul, Paola Fantano in 1996 in Atlanta.
Furthermore, Natalia Partyka also moves ahead of the Para athletes who appeared in three Olympic Games, Italy’s Orazio Fagone and Germany’s Ilke Wyludda.
Orazio Fagone, a short track speed skater, competed in the Winter Olympic Games in 1988 in Calgary, 1992 in Abertsville and 1994 in Lillehammer. Ilke Wyludda, a discus thrower, was present at at the Summer Olympic Games in 1992 in Barcelona, 1996 in Atlanta and 2000 in Sydney. Notably in Atlanta she won gold; in 2011 she had to have her right leg amputated owing to Sepsis.
However, Orazio Fagone appeared in only two Winter Para Games; in sledge hockey in 2006 in Turin, in 2010 in Vancouver; for Ilke Wyludda it was just one, the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The task now for Natalia Partyka is to match Pal Szekeres; at the 1988 he won bronze in the team foil event at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games; in 1991, he was injured in a bus accident. He continued the sport but in a wheelchair. He won gold medal at the Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games.
A goal but Pal Szekeres was able bodied when he won the Olympic Games medal; he did not compete in Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in the same year.
Only six athletes have competed in each competition in the same year; when that has happened, never has an Oympic medal been won.
In addition to Natalia Partyka and Paolo Fantato in 1996, South African swimmer Natalia du Toit competed in both events in 2008 in Beijing as in 2012 did sprinter, Oscar Pretorious; likewise Iran’s Zahra Memati, an archer, was present in both in Rio de Janeiro.
One more name on the list and it belongs to table tennis, Australia’s Melissa Tapper competed in both competitions in Rio de Janeiro; moreover she will do the same again in Tokyo, she has already qualified.
Table tennis, for all, for life.