Stars and surprises at Asian Para Table Tennis Champs

Rio 2016 champions secure spot to defend title in Tokyo

Reigning Paralympic champion and world No. 1 Zhang Bian was among the big winners at the 2019 Asian Para Table Tennis Championships as the competition wrapped up Saturday in Taichung, Chinese Taipei.

Zhang won in the class 5 tournament against 22-year-old Chinese teammate Pan Jiamin in a four-set game (11-5, 5-11, 11-3, 11-3). The win secured her a spot at her fourth Paralympic Games in Tokyo next year to defend her title.

This year’s third regional event had more at stake with Paralympic qualification also on the line, as over 250 athletes from 19 countries competed across 21 medals events.

In the women’s class 3 category, South Korea’s Yoon Jiyu and China’s Xue Juan, reigning Paralympic champion, were both knocked out in the semi-finals.

Instead, victory went to South Korea’s Lee Mi Gyu, who won silver at the last running of this event, showing her recent victory at the 2019 Thermana Lasko Slovenia Open was no fluke.

China’s star player Mao Jingdian dominated the class 8 category, winning against countrywoman Huang Wenjuan (11-5, 11-6, 11-7). The 24-year-old is the reigning Paralympic and world champion.

In the class 1-2 category, China’s Liu Jing claimed the title in a round robin tournament which included a repeat of her Paralympic Games final match in 2016, against South Korea’s Seo Su Yeon (9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7).

Seo, the silver medallist in Rio, was only able to claim bronze at the Asian Championships behind Thailand’s Chilchitraryak Bootwansirina.

In the men’s competitions, South Korea’s Joo Young Dae retained his title in the class 1 category, cementing his ranking as world No. 1.

His rival at the 2018 World Championships, 23-year-old Kim Hyeon Uk, had to settle for silver against his 46-year-old teammate this time around.

World No. 2, defending Paralympic champion and world champion, China’s Feng Panfeng continued to dominate the class 3 category, beating countryman Zhai Xiang.

South Korea’s Kim Young-Gun fought his way through a four-stage tournament to claim victory over Thailand’s Wanchai Chaiwut.

As well as having a string of titles to his name, Kim is the reigning Asian champion, and claimed gold in the single and team events in the 2018 Asian Para Games.

The next regional qualifying Championships will be held in Lima, Peru from 22-27 August. The multi-sport Parapan American Games in the Peruvian capital will act as the Championships for the Americas region.

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