Belgium is celebrating its newest sporting superstar after 16-year-old Laurens Devos triumphed in the men’s class 9 gold medal match of the Rio 2016 table tennis competition.
Devos’ victory makes him the youngest ever Paralympic Games table tennis champion.
The young Belgian, who has cerebral palsy, only made his international debut in 2014.
“This is a surprise,” he said after beating the Netherlands’ Gerben Last 3-0 (11-8, 11-7, 11-4). “My goal was a medal, but it is a gold medal, so that’s better than a medal. I didn't expect to win again 3-0, but yeah, I did it.
“This past night I did not sleep so well because I thought, ‘Ah, I have a semi-final, then maybe a final in one day, so I have to play good’. But I won anyway. I think I can’t play better than this, I played good.”
Denmark’s Peter Rosenmeier beat Alvaro Valera 3-2 (5-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6) to clinch the men’s singles class 6 title.
Valera, who has impaired muscle power due to CMT (Charot-Marie-Tooth disease), won his first Paralympic title at Sydney 2000 in the men’s singles class 8 event.
“Silver medal is a great success,” he said. “Yesterday I nearly lost in the quarter-finals where I was down match point, so this is not a bad result. A medal is a good prize.”
In the women’s class 1 final, Ukrainian Natalia Kosmina defeated Krystyna Siemieniecka 3-0 (11-7, 11-6, 11-5).
And there was a Chinese double, with Feng Panfeng and Liu Jing winning the men’s singles class 3 and women’s singles class 1-2 events respectively.