WORLD PARA CHAMPIONSHIPS
Saturday 20th October
Feng Panfeng and Mao Jingdian retain titles
Four days of intense action in Lasko-Celje at the 2018 World Para Championships, once again it was success for China’s Feng Panfeng and Mao Jingdian; both retained the titles won four years earlier in Beijing.
Furthermore both added to the success enjoyed two years ago at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Competing in Men’s Singles Class 3, Feng Panfeng, the no.2 seed, ended German hopes. After accounting for Thomas Brüchle, the no.3 seed (13-11, 11-9, 11-6), he beat Thomas Schmidberger, the top seed, to claim gold (11-9, 6-11, 12-10, 11-3).
Impressive from Feng Panfeng, it was the same from Mao Jingdian in Women’s Singles Class 8; just as in Rio de Janeiro, she emerged successful but the win was hard fought. The top seed, after accounting for colleague, Li Guiying (11-6, 11-2, 11-7), she needed the full five games to overcome Thu Kamkasomphu of France, the no.3 seed (9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 7-11, 11-4).
Gold for China and there was more gold; likewise successful at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Xue Juan emerged claimed the Women’s Singles Class 3 title. The no.2 seed, at the semi-final stage she beat Croatia’s Andela Muzinic, the no.4 seed (11-1, 11-9, 11-7) prior to overcoming colleague Li Qian, the no.3 seed, to secure the top prize. Notably, Li Qian was a player in form; in the penultimate round she had beaten, Sweden’s Anna-Carin Ahlqhuist, the top seed (11-5, 11-7, 11-13, 3-11, 11-8).
Three gold medals for China; for the Korea Republic the total was four.
In the Women’s Singles events, Seo Suyeon, Kang Oejing and Kim Kunhea emerged successful as in the Men’s Singles competitions did Kim Hyeonuk.
Seo Suyeon, the top seed, clinched the top prize in Class 1-2 by beating Brazil’s Catia da Silva Oliveira (11-3, 12-10, 13-11), having at the semi-final stage overcome Poland’s Dorota Buclaw (11-8, 11-5, 10-12, 11-5). Impressive form from Seo Suyeon, it was the same from Kang Oejeong; competing in Class 5, after accounting for Chinese Taipei’s Hsiao Shu-Chin, she beat Sweden’s Ingela Lundbäck, the no.2 seed (11-4, 11-4, 11-5) to arrest the title.
Both were wins as expected, Seo Suyeon and Kang Oejeong started play as the favourites; for Kim Kunhea in Class 8, the success was very much contrary to expectations. Not listed amongst the leading names, after accounting for China’s Xiong Guiyan, the top seed, she recovering from a two games to nil deficit in the final to beat Poland’s Karolina Pek, the no.2 seed (8-11, 9-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-5).
An unexpected success; the success of Kim Hyeonuk was arguably even greater. Very much a new name, competing in his first World Para Championships, he prevailed in Class 1. After accounting for Argentina’s Fernando Eberhardt (11-9, 11-5, 11-9), he overcame colleague and top seed, Joo Youngdae to secure the title (11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-8). Alas for Joo Youngdae it was the silver medal once again; at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, he had been beaten in the final by Great Britain’s Rob Davies.
In Para table tennis, Class 1 to Class 5 are events for wheelchair athletes, Class 6 to Class 10 for standing players, Class 11 for those with an intellectual disability; the lower the number, the greater the impairment.