12 Nov 2022

Precious medals at stake, history written in the Palacio Municipal de Deportes de Granada

Every possible class in each of the men’s singles and women’s singles events contested for the first time ever at a World Para Table Tennis Championships; on Saturday 12th November in Andalucia, the most intense schedule ever witnessed in the quadrennial event closed.

On no occasion did any classes have to be combined owing to a lack of numbers, such is the progress that has been made in recent years; progress is the word, everything in every aspect more professional, the result ever higher standards of play.

Overall, on the final day of play, a total of 10 titles were on offer, the level of excitement, nerves and emotion as prevalent as six days earlier when the first service crossed the net.

France in the guise of Thu Kamkasomphou set the scene, she secured women’s singles class 8 gold at the expense of Norway’s Aida Dahlen (11-5, 11-6, 11-9), thus regaining the title won previously in 2010 in Gwangju.

“It’s amazing and very important for me, that’s the reason why I train hard. I’m greatly encouraged with Paris 2024 ahead, because the Games are in my country, and I want to make a great performance there.” Thu Kamkasomphou

Title regained for Thu Kamkasomphou; for Nam Kiwon in the class 1 men’s singles final, it was defeat avenged.

At the Tokyo 2022 Olympic Games, Nam Kiwon had experienced a semi-final reverse when opposing Korea Republic colleague, Joo Youngdae, the eventual gold medallist. In Granada, Nam Kiwon, intent on reversing the decision, prevailed in straight games (11-6, 11-8, 11-7).

“In the final I was really nervous, we are both from Korea, we know each other so well; now at last I’ve won gold, I’m so very happy.” Nam Kiwon

A first title in the individual events at a World Para Table Tennis Championships for Nam Kiwon; it was the same in women’s singles class 9 for Hungary’s Alexa Svitacs; she beat Australia’s Lei Li Na, the winner at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, to arrest the title (4-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9).

“I don’t know what can I say. It my first World Championships and I’ve won; when I lost some match points, I was a little nervous because I lost against her at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. I hope in future I will get the gold medal in Paris.” Alexa Svitacs

Commanding performances, the immediately ensuing men’s singles class 4 final was very different, Korea Republic’s Kim Junggil, the men’s doubles class 8 winner partnering Kim Younggun, overcame Frenchman Maxime Thomas by the very narrowest of margins (11-5, 4-11, 12-10, 5-11, 12-10).

“I’ve not won anything since 2010, so I really appreciate this moment; in recent years I have been under a great deal of pressure, now I have gold in both men’s doubles and men’s singles.” Kim Junggil

Runners up spot for Maxime Thomas, it was the same outcome in men’s singles class 8 for colleague Thomas Bouvais; he was beaten by Viktor Didukh, the winner in 2014 in Beijing, the Ukrainian’s powerful forehand a determining factor (14-12, 11-5, 11-5).

“For me it was a difficult competition because I couldn’t prepare well due the situation in my country, when I won, I thought of my children, I became emotional; for that reason, I’m grateful to win here. Thank you all.” Viktor Didukh

Success for Viktor Didukh came immediately after history had been written, Poland’s Dorota Bucklaw overcame Aino Tapola (6-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-6) to win the first ever class 1 women’s singles title at a World Para Table Tennis Championships.

“I feel fantastic, it’s the first-time class 1 has been separate from class 2; that has allowed me to match my level with players of a similar disability. I must say that I have really enjoyed my time in Granada; I hope to come back with my family.” Dorota Bucklaw

Gold for Dorota Bucklaw but not for compatriot Natalia Partyka who was seeking no less than her seventh women’s singles class 10 title at a World Para Table Tennis Championships. In the final she was beaten by Australia’s Yang Qian (11-5, 11-7, 11-8).

The win recorded by Yang Qian means she has now won the most recent three encounters against Natalia Partyka; last year she prevailed when they met in the semi-finals at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and earlier this year in March when they drew swords in the Costa Brava final.

“I focused before match, especially in my preparation; I just tried to do my best. Concentration, I think that was the key to win the final against Partyka.” Yang Qian

A first title in the individual events at a World Para Championships for Yang Qian, immediately following it was the same for Italy’s Giada Rossi. She beat Korea Republic’s Seo Suyeon, the player who had won class 1-2 four years ago in Lasko, to don the women’s singles class 2 crown (11-6, 9-11, 11-7, 11-4).

“It’s unbelievable, I am really happy, I feel full of energy; now time to celebrate with friends and family, I am living the moment.” Giada Rossi

Firsts, for Poland’s Patryk Chojnowski it was three in a row, the winner in 2014 in Beijing, then four years ago in Lasko; once again he captured the men’s singles class 10 title; at the final hurdle he beat Indonesia’s David Jacobs (11-9, 11-9, 11-7).

“I think I did not play that well, chaotic but I won gold; this week I’ve been a bit stressed, the important thing is that I managed to cope with the stress and win here in Granada.” Patryk Chojnowski

Three consecutive wins for Patryk Chojnowski, in the match that brought play to a conclusion it was exactly the same for Frenchman, Fabien Lamirault; at the final hurdle he accounted for Poland’s Rafal Czuper (11-9, 11-8, 11-9) to claim the men’s singles class 2 title.

“I felt a lot of pressure before the tournament; it was a case of playing match after match and maintaining concentration.” Fabien Lamirault

Proceedings concluded, all leave with their special thoughts, the Andalucia 2022 World Para Table Tennis Championships will live long in the memory.

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