The pressure was on this year in Para table tennis with the World Championships taking place in October in Lasko-Celje, Slovenia. There was no rest for Asian athletes, as many would head to Jakarta, Indonesia, the very next week for the Asian Para Games.
Here are four moments that stood out in 2018:
Van Zon goes viral - again
After being upset at the 2017 European Championships, the Netherlands’ Kelly Van Zon bounced back, with another iconic diving shot similar to what landed her gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
In Slovenia, Van Zon was down two sets to one against her Turkish rival Kubra Korkut. Leading in the fourth set, the Dutch athlete hit an amazing shot which would become viral. Van Zon dove into the floor to hit a forehand while falling and caught Korkut by surprise. She got back up and celebrated, just as she got back on top of the women’s class 7.
The men’s class 6 has been a back-and-forth battle among Denmark’s Peter Rosenmeier, Spain’s Alvaro Valera and Thailand’s Rungroj Thainiyom.
In Lasko-Celje, Rio 2016 Paralympic champion Rosenmeier appeared to have fall off the pace after a disappointing 2017 European campaign. But much like Van Zon, he stormed back this year, beating London 2012 champion Thainiyom, before thrashing world No. 1 Valera 3-0 in the final.
At 18 years old, Belgium’s Laurens Devos has remained at the top of the men’s class 9 in unbelievable fashion, having not lost a single match in more than two years.
He dropped only one point during the entire tournament in Lasko-Celje to cruise to gold on his World Championship debut.
Poland’s multi-Paralympic, world and European champion Natalia Partyka added another gold to her collection, re-enforcing her reputation as the queen of the class 10.
South Korea’s Kim Hyeon Uk, 22, not only came away with a first world title, but he also swept aside some of the very best in the men’s class 1, including compatriot and world No. 1 Young Dae Joo in the final.
The two met again at Indonesia 2018 in the final, with the veteran and Rio 2016 silver medallist winning in four sets.