28 Oct 2023

Pressure tells, tense times in Hangzhou.

Aiming to gain places at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games and thus repeat the gold medal triumphs of past years, at the ITTF Asian Para Games 2022, play concluding after seven days of action in the Chinese city of Hangzhou on Saturday 28th October, it was to some extent mixed fortunes for those who have experienced the elation of gaining the highest honour.

Success in the men’s singles and women’s singles, subject to National Paralympic Committee approval, reserved places in the French capital city.

In the men’s singles, previous Paralympic Games gold medallists, Korea Republic’s Joo Youngdae (class 1) and Thailand’s Rungroj Thainiyom (class 6), alongside the Chinese duo of Feng Panfeng (class 3) and Zhao Shuai (class 8), all emerged victorious.

However, for Korea Republic’s, Kim Younggun (class 4), it was runners up spot, beaten by Thailand’s Wanchai Chaiwut (12-10, 7-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-2), for both China’s Cao Ningning (class 5) and Yan Shuo (class 7), it was a semi-final final exit.

Cao Ningning was beaten by compatriot Liu Fu (11-9, 3-11, 13-11, 11-7), the player to emerge the biggest surprise winner.

Gold medallist earlier this year in Montenegro but not seeded in Hangzhou, in the final Liu Fu beat compatriot, Zhan Dashun (11-6, 7-11, 11-3, 11-7), the penultimate round winner in opposition to Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Ming-Chih, the top seed (5-11, 11-5, 9-11, 13-11, 15-13).

Earlier, in the group stage Cheng Ming-Chih had beaten Liu Fu in straight games (11-8, 11-5, 11-3).

The men's singles class 5 medallists (Photo: Liao Xiong)
The men’s singles class 5 medallists (Photo: Liao Xiong)

Meanwhile, Yan Shuo was beaten by Japan’s Katsuyoshi Yagi (14-12, 11-9, 11-9), the top seed and champion elect. In the final he accounted for Liao Keli, also from China (13-11, 11-3, 11-7).

Titles for the top seeds, in the men’s singles it was the same for Korea Republic’s Park Jincheol (class 2), China’s Lian Hao (class 10) and Chinese Taipei’s Chen Po-Yen (class 11).

in fact, other than Liu Fu, the only men’s singles winner who had not started play the top seed, was China’s Zhao Yi Qing (class 9); the no.2 seed, he claimed gold at the expense of Japan’s Koyo Iwabuchi, the top seed (11-7, 11-8, 11-7).

Somewhat differently, in the women’s singles for players who have enjoyed extensive Paralympic Games success, it was gold for China’s Mao Jingdian (class 9), previously class 8, but not for Liu Jing (class 1-2), Xue Juan (class 3), nor for Zhang Bian (class 5).

Mao Jingdian, the no.2 seed, secured the top prize at the expense of Korea Republic’s Kim Kunhea (8-11, 11-4, 4-11, 11-6, 13-11), the semi-final winner in opposition to China’s Xiong Guiyan, the top seed (11-8, 10-12, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8).

Significantly, Liu Jing was beaten in the final by Korea Republic’s Seo Suyeon, the top seed (11-4, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6.

Sweet revenge for Seo Suyeon. In the two most recent Paralympic Games gold medal contests, Liu Jing has beaten Seo Suyeon in four games, in Rio de Janeiro (11-6, 9-11, 12-10, 19-17), in Tokyo (11-7, 11-8, 4-11, 11-8).

A most successful visit to Hangzhou for Seo Suyeon (Photo: Liao Xong)
A most successful visit to Hangzhou for Seo Suyeon (Photo: Liao Xong)

Runners up spot at the expense of the top seed, it was the same for Xuan Juan beaten by Korea Republic’s Yoon Jiyu (11-9, 7-11, 12-10, 11-5) and for Zhan Bian who experienced defeat at the hands of colleague, Pan Jiamin (8-11, 6-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-9).

The top prize for the top seeds, in the women’s singles events it was the same for China’s Wang Rui (class 7) and Huang Wenjuan (class 8), as it was for Japan’s Natsuki Wada (class 11).

Otherwise, as play progressed, the leading names had to settle for second spot.

Zhou Ying (class 4) was beaten in an all-Chinese final by Gu Xiaodan, the no.4 seed (12-10, 13-11, 11-9), Korea Republic’s Lee Kunwoo (class 6) by Iraq’s Najlah Al-Dayyeni, the no.2 seed (11-7, 12-10, 11-7), Chinese Taipei’s Tian Shiau-Wen (class 10) by compatriot, Lin Tzu-Yu, the no.3 seed (11-8, 13-11, 11-13, 8-11, 11-6).

A hard-earned success for Lin Tzu-Yu, later she was to add to her title haul. She partnered Lin Chun-Ting to mixed doubles class 20 gold.

Likewise, Huang Wenjuan secured a second title when joining forces with Jin Yucheng in women’s doubles class 14 alongside Jin Yucheng.

In a similar vein, male counterparts, Joo Youngdae, Feng Panfeng, Wanchai Chaiwut and Lian Hao added to their men’s singles titles.

A most successful visit to Hangzhou for Seo Suyeon (Photo: Liao Xong)
A most successful visit to Hangzhou for Seo Suyeon (Photo: Liao Xong)

Men’s doubles success came the way of Joo Youngdae and Jiang Yeongjin in class 5, Wanchai Chaiwut and Yuttajak Glinbanchuen prevailed in class 8, Lian Ho partnered Zhao Shuai to gold in class 18.

Similarly, Feng Panfeng claimed the top prize in mixed doubles class 7-10 in partnership with Zhou Ying.

Two titles secured; it was similar for Korea Republic’s Kim Gitae. In class 22, he enjoyed men’s doubles success partnering Kim Changgi, mixed doubles alongside Seo Yanghee.

Worthy performances but pride of place went to Rungroj Thainiyom and Seo Suyeon; each departed with the maximum possible three titles.

Adding to earlier success, Rungroj Thainiyom partnered Phisit Wangphonphathanasiri to men’s doubles class 14 gold, Kanlaya Chaiwut-Kriabklang to victory in mixed doubles class 14.

Pursuing a similar path Seo Suyeon prevailed in women’s doubles class 5 with Li Migyu, in mixed doubles class 4 with Park Jincheol; a success that gave Park Jincheol a second title, earlier he had emerged the men’s singles class 2 winner.

Titles for the Korea Republic on the concluding day of play, likewise there was success for China.

Competing in women’s doubles, Zhang Bian and Zhou Ying joined forces to win class 10, Xiong Guiyan and Zhao Xiaojing prevailed in class 20, Hong Kong’s Ng Mui Wui and Wong Ting Ting clinched gold in class 22.

The podium for women's doubles class 22 (Photo: Liao Xong)
The podium for women’s doubles class 22 (Photo: Liao Xong)

Play concluded in Hangzhou, attention now turns to Europe, the ITTF Fa40 SQY French Para Open 2023, a four day tournament, commences on Thursday 9th November.

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