by Kabir Nagpal
Liu Jing vs Seo Suyeon
Women’s Singles Class 1-2
An Asian final at the Paralympic Games generally ensues a great deal of drama and tension; that is what happened when China’s Liu Jing faced Korea Republic’s Seo Suyeon in the women’s class 1-2 final.
Playing her third Paralympic Games, the Chinese recorded a simultaneous third gold medal in a row as she won 3-1 (11-6, 9-11, 12-10, 19-17) against Seo.
Having won in Beijing and London previously, Liu did not let the loss of the second game affect her stride. She remained positive. It turned out to be necessary as Seo was not letting the battle go by quickly and drew out the final two games as best she could. It was a testament to the stamina and persistence of Liu in the manner with which she secured the gold.
Borislava Peric-Rankovic vs Zhang Miao
Women’s Singles Class 4
In the battle between the 2015 European Champion and a rising star in the Asian para circuit, sparks were bound to fly. Serbia’s Borislava Peric-Rankovic managed to add to her collection of titles in stunning fashion as she clinched gold in women’s singles class 4 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
In A final littered with crucial moments, Rankovic managed to gain the upper hand against China’s Zhang Miao in a well fought 3-2 (11-4, 6-11, 7-11, 11-3, 11-6) victory. Zhang momentarily had looked to have turned the tide by winning the second and third games but it was the resilience of her European opponent which brought her the top step to the podium.
It meant it was the first ever Paralympic Games gold medal for Rankovic, making it a total of three medals at the prestigious event – having won silver in the women’s singles class 4 in both 2012 and 2008.
Peter Rosenmeier vs Alvaro Valera
Men’s Singles Class 6
There are few other finals that engage an audience than a five-game thriller; that was in fact on the September 11th, in 2016 when Denmark’s Peter Rosenmeier beat Spain’s Alvaro Valera, to secure the men’s singles class 6 title, despite being 1-2 down after three games.
“I don’t think it was the best of finals, I was always behind, always having to recover, always mentally under – that was until the fifth game. I think the top spin I played to go ahead 3-1 rather shook him mentally.” Peter Rosenmeier
At that point in the match, Valera called “Time Out” but the break worked in favour of Rosenmeier. Winning the next two points gave him the lead at the change of ends. The Spaniard reduced the deficit to one point at 6-5 but never gained parity. Recording an eventual 3-2 (5-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6), it was a second gold for Peter Rosenmeier at a Paralympic Games.
Ge Yang vs Patryk Chojnowski
Men’s Singles Class 10
The Riocentro Pavilion 3 saw one of the most dramatic finals in the history of the Paralympic Games as 30-year-old Ge Yang managed to record a comeback win over the defending champion from Poland, Patryk Chojnowski. The Chinese won 3-2 (5-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8, 16-14) to claim his second men’s singles title in his career, eight years after winning in the men’s singles class 9-10, beating colleague Ma Lin in the final.
“After each match point, I just told myself to start afresh, if I reach a match point, I can make another and another. I am confident of that. I was very sad after the defeat in London, so I have made a lot of preparations between these four years. I have lost two important matches to him, so I had no fear today playing against him, so mentally I’m in a better position. On the other hand as the defending champion Chojnowski had more to consider during the match; his style is very European which is very different from our Asian style of play.” Ge Yang
In the vital fifth game, Ge, a left hand attacking player whose forehand top spin is his forte, established a 10-8 lead. Chojnowski, in trademark Polish style used his backhand top spin strokes to win the next three points. Despite having the opportunity, Ge initially could not convert, as Chojnowski saved two further match points before eventually having to succumb to the ice cool Chinese who, on securing the match winning point, jumped on the table in celebration.
Florian Van Acker vs Samuel von Einem
Men’s Singles Class 11
Debutants seem to always make a name for themselves at grand stages, and it was no different for Florian Van Acker playing his first Paralympic Games as the 2015 European champion won the men’s singles class 11 title, defeating Australia’s Samuel Von Einem in a full distance five games duel (11-8, 16-18, 11-13, 11-5, 11-8).
“In the semi-final when I played against Peter Palos I played much better than today. Usually I am happy in the rallies but today against Samuel I was so nervous I couldn’t keep the ball on the table. In the fourth game I became stronger but today I really had to push myself to overcome my nerves; winning today is a dream come true.” Florian Van Acker
It was a big win for van Acker and Belgium, as the 19-year-old eventually asserted his authority after the third game. It was a tough end to the campaign for the 21-year-old from Adelaide, as at one point it looked like his experience may just prove to edge out his opponent – but it was not to be.