Focused, Korea Republic’s Kim Gitae and Seo Yanghee wrote their names indelibly into the history books of sport; late on the afternoon of Monday 7th November, they became the first ever winners of a doubles event at a World Para Championships.
In Andalucia they won mixed doubles class 22, a success that appeared a distant dream following their opening match.
On the first day of play they had experienced a four games defeat at the hands of Japan’s Takashi Asano and Kanami Furukawa (7-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-8). It was to prove their only reverse. Immediately following Takashi Asano and Kanami Furukawa lost to the French pairing of Lucas Creange and Lea Ferney in five games (11-7, 11-2, 6-11, 7-11, 11-5).
Matters on a knife-edge; in their concluding contest, the Korean duo needed a straight games win to claim gold. They duly obliged overcoming Lucas Creange and Lea Ferney (11-8, 11-9, 11-7); Poland’s Marek Chybinski and Dorota Nowacka ended the day without a win to their name.
In such situations, match ratio between the three pairs with two wins each decided; thus, Kim Gitae and Seo Yanghee finished in top spot (4:3) ahead of Takashi Asano and Kanami Furukawa (5:4), third place being the lot of Lucas Creange and Lea Ferney (3:5).
Alas for Lucas Creange and Lea Ferney, they missed out on a medal; in events where there are less than six players or pairs only gold and silver is awarded.
“We lost to Japan, we thought after that match it would be very difficult to win a medal, we are so surprised and so happy.” Seo Yanghee
A stunned reaction from Seo Yanghee, it was the same from Kim Gitae.
“I thought we had a chance but never gold; we are wiped out, totally shocked; we must thank our coaches Kim Jeong Jung and Lee Jungae.” Kim Gitae
Success for Kim Gitae and Seo Yanghee was followed by success for Ukraine’s Lev Kats and Ivan Mai; in the final of men’s doubles class 18, they accounted for Great Britain’s Josh Stacey and Ross Wilson (11-9, 11-4, 13-11).
“I feel really good right now, it is always better when you finish in first place, in second spot you wonder what might have been.” Lev Kats
Disappointment for Great Britain was followed by unbridled joy; somewhat contrary to expectations Paul Karabardak and Billy Shilton secured men’s doubles class 14 gold. At the final hurdle they beat Thailand’s Rungroj Thainiyom and Phisit Wangphonphathanasiri (11-8, 11-8, 1-11, 11-8).
“It’s everything for us, we have trained so hard to win this title; it’s the second title we have won together, to become World doubles champions is incredible.” Billy Shilton
Very much the British pair excelled expectations, it was only the second time they had played together; the one previous occasion earlier this year in June when the won in the Czech Republic!
Also was there another first? It must have been one of the first events in modern times when the national anthem has been “God save the King”.
“We love so much playing together and we have more objectives in the future. It’s just crazy.” Paul Karabardak
Gold for Great Britain, one hour later it was the same colour medal for Australia; Lei Li Na and Yang Qian accounted for Poland’s Natalia Partyka and Karolina Pek to reserve the top step of the podium (7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-5).
“We are super happy, we played so well today; to get the gold medal is amazing.” Lei Li Na
Notably, it was step forward for the Australians.
“We didn’t expect to win because we’d never achieve a title together, but we’ve done a very nice tournament. The city of Granada and this tournament has been incredible.” Yang Qian
Impressive from Lei Li Na, it was the same from Kim Younggun and Kim Junggil who added to Korea Republic success. They brought the day to and end by securing the men’s doubles class 8 crown. At the final hurdle they accounted for Thailand’s Yuttajak Glinbanchuen and Wanchai Chaiwut (11-9, 11-7, 11-4).
“I was very confident before the tournament started, in the past I have won several gold medals.” Kim Younggun
Positive words from Kim Youngun, rather more reserved from Kim Junggil.
“It is a great honour to have won gold,” Kim Jungil
The remaining men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles finals will be played on the morning of Tuesday 8th November.