26 Aug 2021

Consistent, always competitive but the big prize elusive, Anne Barneoud of France emerged the player to cause the biggest upset in the women’s singles competition at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games on Thursday 26th August.

Not listed amongst the elite names, competing in class 7, she beat Kelly van Zon of the Netherlands, the top seed, in a dramatic full distance contest that gripped the attention of those in the Metropolitan Gymnasium.

by Ian Marshall

In the vital fifth game she saved three match points. She trailed 8-10, was in arrears 10-11, before eventually emerging victorious (7-11, 12-10, 11-8, 8-11, 14-12).

“It was important to be mentally in a good frame of mind and to play confidently; I was very surprised that I won and of course very happy, it was a very tiring match, much stress, I just focused on winning one point at a time.” Anne Barneoud

The policy worked for a player who is no mean performer but cannot match the pedigree of Kelly van Zon.

On the current women’s class 7 world rankings, Kelly Van Zon occupies the top spot, Anne Barneoud is in the no.6 position, her highest being no.4 in December 2015.

Notably, she owns a Paralympic medal. In Beijing in 2008 she secured bronze in women’s team class 6-10, lining up alongside Thu Kamkasomphou, Audrey Le Morvan and Claire Mairie.

Most creditable but overshadowed by Kelly van Zon.

In 2008 in Beijing, she secured bronze in women’s singles class 6-7, before in 2012 in London and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro emerging the gold medallist.

Kelly van Zon has now concluded her group phase matches. One more match awaits Anne Barneoud, she confronts Mexico’s Claudia Perez Villalba in the contest that will determine the final order.

Earlier Claudia Perez Villalba was beaten in straight games by Kelly van Zon (11-6, 11-8, 11-5).

Problems for Kelly van Zon, the top seed, not for the next in line; Turkey’s Kubra Korkut and China’s Wang Rui both remained unbeaten to conclude their initial stage matches in top spot.

Players finishing in first and second positions in each group advance to the main draw.

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