29 Aug 2021

Four titles at stake on the morning of Sunday 29th August at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, not one quarter was given, not one quarter asked.

The stand out performance was that of Germany's Valentin Baus in a session of play when China added to their tally, Zhou Ying and Mao Jingdian alongside Yan Shuo emerged victorious.

by Ian Marshall

Proceedings commenced in a most dramatic fashion; gold for Valentin Baus but just one point away from defeat.

Vital game

Taking risks, notably strong from the backhand, Valentin Baus extracted revenge; five years ago in Rio de Janeiro, he had been beaten in straight games in the men’s singles class 5 final by China’s Cao Ningning (13-11, 12-10, 11-8), in Tokyo he prevailed in a full distance five games  duel (11-4, 7-11, 9-11, 13-11, 11-7).

The crucial stage of the contest came in the fourth game; Valentin Baus led 10-6 but then lost the next five points; it appeared he had missed an opportunity. He saved the match point, it proved a major source of motivation; at the change of ends in the decider he led 5-2, he extended the advantage to 8-3 before at 10-5 holding five match points; at the second attempt he converted.

“I don’t think there was any big difference to Rio, just one or two vital points; at the moment I’m so happy, I cannot describe the feeling. Today my attacking play was stronger than in Rio. After losing five points from being 10-6 up in the fourth I really had to concentrate; in the fifth I returned the ball better and he made some mistakes. It’s just amazing, I’m lost for words.” Valentin Baus


Defeat avenged, for Zhou Ying against Bhavinaben Patel it was déjà vu. In the very first match of the women’s singles class 4 event, they had met; on that occasion Zhou Ying had won in straight games (11-3, 11-9, 11-2), in the final it was little different, once again Zhou Ying showed no mercy (11-7, 11-6, 11-6).

Point after point, Zhou Ying was able to seize the initiative, her attacking play proving too consistent for Bhavinaben Patel, as she collected the title for a third consecutive time. Previously she had won in London (2012) and Rio de Janeiro (2016).

“She sits quite close to the table, so this time, I tried to block her returns by playing over the table, so that her strokes wouldn’t be so fast or as powerful; then I attacked. In the first match, I couldn’t quite get used to the rubber on her racket, but it got better in the second match. Due to my shoulder injury, I only started getting into the right physical and mental state after Chinese New Year last year. The postponement of Tokyo 2020 did help with my recovery too. I just tried to stay calm and play one match at a time, taking it one step at a time.” Zhou Ying

Third final

Success for Yan Shuo was followed in men’s singles class 7 by more success for China, Yan Shuo recovered from an opening game deficit to beat Great Britain’s Will Bayley (4-11, 11-9, 11-2, 11-8), the second game crucial.

A brave performance from Yan Shuo (Photo: Rémy Gros)


Winning the close game, having for the most part been in arrears, gave Yan Shuo, strong from the forehand, a major confidence boost. He dominated the third, before in the fourth winning the crucial points as self-belief drained from the mind of the British player.

“After losing the first game, I started the second game a little nervously; when I found myself behind again, I told myself I couldn’t continue like that, that I had to persevere and go all out. As the Chinese saying goes, when you find yourself in the face of defeat, the only way forward is to fight and survive.

He wasn’t an easy opponent. It took me a while to adapt to him, the key to my recovery was courage and confidence; I started to be more uninhibited in my strokes and just soldiered on. Since I’ve already made it to the final, I just wanted to give my all. I’m really happy and emotional I managed to get a gold medal this time.” Yan Shuo

Notably it was a third consecutive final for Will Bayley, the second silver medal. Previously in London (2012) he had been beaten in the final by Germany’s Jochen Wollmert (11-8, 4-11, 11-5, 11-4), in Rio de Janeiro (2016) he had secured gold at the final expense of the host nation’s Israel Stroh (11-9, 5-11, 11-9, 11-4).

In Rio de Janeiro, Yan Shuo had won bronze. At the semi-final stage he had lost to Israel Stroh (11-7, 5-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9), before overcoming Spain’s Jordi Morales (11-4, 8-11. 11-7, 11-7) to secure third place.

Cool, calm and collected

A frenzied affair, plenty of vocals from both players and supporters, the final that brought the morning session to an end was the very opposite as Mao Jingdian beat Chinese national team colleague, Huang Wenjuan (11-13, 11-5, 11-5, 11-9) to arrest the women’s singles class 8 title.

Mao Jingdian, totally unruffled (Photo: Rémy Gros)


Supremely composed, after losing a close first game, Mao Jingdian seized control, any crucial points being greeted by clenching the fist of her left hand, just like Li Xiaoxia, the London 2012 Olympic Games women’s singles gold medallist.

“We’re partners in doubles too, so we train together and interact a lot. We’re roommates as well. She’s an adorable little girl! I think she played exceptionally well today. In the past, after a competition, I’d tell her what mistakes she made and what she could work on. I have nothing to tell her today; that was how well she played. The way she played even sent chills down my spine!

I’m quite calm and collected. I was in a daze when I just won, it’s starting to hit now.” Mao Jingdian

Success for Mao Jingdian and success for the third consecutive time; she won in both London (2012) and Rio de Janeiro (2016).

Defeat for Huang Wenjuan but she could be pleased with her efforts; it was her first ever appearance at a Paralympic Games.

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