London 2012 Para-Table Tennis: What to Watch18.04.2012
With 29 medal events and nearly 300 athletes, Para-Table Tennis is one of the largest sports on the Paralympic programme.
"Para-Table Tennis is one of the largest sports on the Paralympic programme this year."
With 29 medal events and nearly 300 athletes, Para-Table Tennis is one of the largest sports on the Paralympic programme this year.
At London 2012, all individual events will begin with a group qualification stage followed by a knockout competition, with athletes progressing through the draw until the finals. The team events will be conducted according to a direct knockout format.
The competition will be held at ExCeL, a multi-purpose event venue that will also host a number of other Paralympic sports.
On the first two days of competition, qualifying matches will take place across all individual classifications. Athletes will be grouped into 11 different classes based on their functional ability. Five classes are devoted to wheelchair athletes, five to standing athletes and one to those with an intellectual impairment.
There will be several players to keep your eyes on in the qualifying round, including Poland’s Natalia Partyka (Class 10) and China’s Quian Li (Class 3) on the women’s side, and China’s Panfeng Feng (Class 3) and Great Britain’s home hero Will Bayley (Class 7) on the men’s side.
After the last set of qualifying matches in the early morning, the quarter-final and semi-final rounds will take place in the individual competition. The women’s Class 3 matches will highlight the morning, as Li tries to defend her Paralympic gold medal. Slovakia’s Alena Kanova, Slovenia’s Mateja Pintar and Great Britain’s Sara Head all have the chance to push Qian off the top of the podium, and the quarter-finals in this classification could make for the most interesting round.
The day begins with the gold-medal match in the women’s Class 11 for athletes with an intellectual impairment. Ukraine’s Natalya Kosmina is No. 1 in the world in this category, but she could receive stiff competition from Hong Kong’s Chi Ka Yeung and Russia’s Anzhelika Kosachieva in the medal round.
Bayley could have the chance to claim gold in the men’s Class 7 in the afternoon. The No. 1 player in the world would steal the show at the ExCeL on this day if he is still competing.
In the morning session the medal round continues, as Germany’s Holger Nikelis, who won gold at Athens 2004, will try to take the top spot on the podium in the men’s Class 1. France’s Jean-Francois Ducay and Austria’s Andreas Vevera are most likely to be his toughest challengers for a medal.
Then what better way to end the singles competition than with the women’s Class 10 final at 21:30 (GMT), in which Poland’s Natalia Partyka hopes to defend her title? Partyka, who is set to compete in both the Olympics and Paralympics, has without a doubt established herself as the most recognizable face in the world in Para-Table Tennis.
If you have one day to head to the ExCeL, make it this one. Watching Partyka play will be enough excitement all by itself.
The first three rounds of team competition will take place over these two days, and the Chinese women will certainly be the group to watch. China won gold in all three women’s team classifications at Beijing 2008, and Li has a solid shot of winning both individual gold in Class 3 and team gold in the Class 1-3 competition.
There will be gold-medal matches in four different team categories on this day: Women’s Class 1-3, men’s Class 1-2, men’s Class 3 and men’s Class 6-8.
Keep your eyes on Korea’s men’s team in Class 1-2, which includes Jae Kwan Cho, Kyung Mook Kim, Min Gyu Kim and Chang Ho Lee. The squad won bronze at Beijing 2008 and is coming off a first-place finish at the 2011 Asia and Oceanic Championships.
The Para-Table Tennis competition will come to a close with the medal events in the last four team categories: Women’s Class 4-5, women’s Class 6-10, men’s Class 4-5 and men’s Class 9-10.
If all goes according to plan for the Chinese, this is the day their women’s team could complete a clean sweep.