The 2017 Asian Championships in Beijing, China were once again expected to see many of the home players conquer the continent. While many of China’s athletes did indeed hold their nerve on the big occasion, the tournament also saw many thrills and surprises, as new faces emerged to make this year’s competition more exciting than ever.
Two unbelievable shocks saw young and unranked players Zhao Xiaojing of class 10 and Zhan Dashun of class 5 come home with gold after gritty 3-2 wins. Xiaojing’s dream looked to be fading when a 2-0 lead was cancelled out by Chinese Tapei’s Shiau Wen, only for the 22-year-old to rally back and win the final set. Dashun also displayed his determination fight back from 2-1 down and beat his Chinese rival and world No.1 Cao Ningning to stun the crowds.
A first individual glory was also taken in sumptuous style by China’s class 10 player Lian Hao, as the absence of top two David Jacobs and Ge Yang allowed him to keep the rest of the contestants firmly at arm’s length and take the title with a 3-0 win over Thailand’s Bunpot Sillapakong.
The host city also saw its own two-time Paralympic class 8 champion Mao Jingdian be once again too hot to handle. She conceded only one set in the whole tournament – in the final to her opponent Yu Hailen Churen - whom she saw off 3-1 to take her tally of Asian titles to three.
There were hometown heroics from Beijing-born Paralympic champion Xue Juan in the women’s class 1-3, coming back from losing a woeful first set to beat Zhonghui Yang 3-1 for her first Asian title.
China were dominant elsewhere in the tournament too, as Yi Qin Zhao fought off a dangerous late comeback from Japanese opponent Koyo Iwabuchi to take the men’s class 9 title with a 3-2 win. South Korea’s Kim Young-Gun needed to dig deep in the class 4 final, winning the last two sets to scrape past countryman Kim Jung-Gil 3-2.
Also showing no signs of being toppled is men’s class 3 champion Feng Pangfeng, as a 3-0 win over Zhao Ping gave China’s three-time Paralympic winner another emphatic Asian gold. A third successive title was also comfortably clinched by Kim Gi Tae after beating his Japanese rival Takeshi Takemori, leaving him unbeaten individually in 2017.
The Women’s class 4 and Men’s class 8 also saw old scores settled, as China’s Zhang Miao avenged her loss from 2015 by overcoming Chinese rival and 2015 champion Zhou Ying in a 3-2 thriller. Zhao Shuai’s victory, however, was much simpler, winning three sets in a row to mercilessly seize the title from Chinese opponent Chao Qun Ye.
Men’s class 2 champion from 2015 Ca Soo Yong could do nothing to stop fellow South Korean Jin Cheol Park, who after sweeping past highest ranked player Gao Yang Ming with a 3-0 win, did the same to the defending champion in the final to win his first major title.
Past glories were rekindled for 44-year-old South Korean player Hong Kyu Park, coming out on top in out in a small class 6 line-up of four to win a first major title since 2014 and cement his status as one of the top players on the continent.