“Every athlete wishes to get a gold medal in the competition. For me, it is a perfect start at the beginning of a new four-year Paralympic cycle.”
Panfeng Feng could not have followed up his London 2012 double-gold Paralympic performance with a better year.
China’s star table tennis player dominated the 2013 ITTF Para-Table Tennis Asian Championships at home in Beijing, winning gold in both the men’s Class 3 singles and team events to vault himself to No. 2 in the world rankings.
“Every athlete wishes to get a gold medal in the competition,” Feng said. “For me, it is a perfect start at the beginning of a new four-year Paralympic cycle.”
In the singles competition, Feng easily won both his matches in the group stage and then continued on cruise control through the knockout rounds. He defeated Jordan’s Osama Abu Jame 3-0 in the quarter-finals, Chinese teammate Xiang Zhai 3-0 in the semi-finals and then another teammate, Ping Zhao 3-0 in the final.
He then teamed up with both Ping and Zhai to secure gold in the team final.
All of the players trained together prior to October’s Championships – which drew athletes from 16 different countries – simulating the environment they’d see in Beijing.
“During training we often set up group match, imagining the teammates as opponents and acting like in real competition,” Feng said. “We coach each other in our own group. The overall atmosphere was really intense and nervous.”
Now, the only person who sits in the way of Feng obtaining the world’s No. 1 ranking is Germany’s Thomas Schmidberger.
Feng, who also won gold this season at the 2013 Para-Table Tennis Korean Open, insists he knows what it takes to surpass Schmidberger in the rankings prior to next year’s World Championships, which will also take place in Beijing in September.
“The most ideal way (to No. 1) is to combine technical innovation in training and experience in competition,” Feng said.
And along the way, you’ll never guess what Feng’s superstition will be lining up behind the table every time.
“I would like to have my hair style look awesome,” he said.