Brazil made history by becoming the first Latin American nation to capture a world title in Para table tennis as the 2017 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Para World Team Championships concluded on Saturday (20 May) in Bratislava, Slovakia.
The Rio 2016 Paralympic bronze medal tandem of Bruna Costa Alexandre, Danielle Rauen and Jennfyer Marques beat Turkey’s Nesilhan Kavas and Merve Demir in the women’s class 9-10 finals 2-0. After a tight 11-8, 11-3, 9-11, 13-11, 13-11 doubles result, Alexandre took a comfortable 11-8, 11-2, 11-6 victory over Demir to seal the gold medal.
“We came to Bratislava with the aim of being World Champions. I am pleased that we were able to achieve this dream,” Alexandre said. “In the final, the doubles was very tough, as the Turkish players changed their strategies throughout the game. We had to keep finding ways to solve problems during the match; what stood out was our team spirit, we practice together regularly in Brazil.”
Host country Slovakia did not disappoint the local crowd as the team of Jan Riapos, Martin Ludrovsky and Lukas Klizan beat France’s Rio Paralympic gold medallists Fabien Lamirault and Stephane Molliens 2-0 to win the men's class 2 event.
“Prior to the tournament, I had one dream which was to organise the tournament and to sing the national anthem,” Riapos said. “I am very happy that I’m able to fulfil this dream now. Two months ago, I beat Fabien at the Hungarian Open. Today we had home ground advantage and most importantly we won the doubles match; that relieved the stress on us.”
Silver medallists at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, the German combination of Thomas Bruchle and Thomas Schmidberger overcame Ukraine’s Vasy Petruniv and Olekdandr Yezyk to secure the men’s class 3 title.
A four-games doubles success (9-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-8) was followed by a straight games win for Schmidberger against Yezyk to close the deal.
In the men’s class 4, Turkey’s Abdullah Ozturk, who was part of the Rio 2016 bronze medal tandem, joined with Nesim Turan to defeat France’s Maxime Thomas and Florien Merrien for the gold. The doubles set the tone with a four games win (11-7, 11-13, 11-8, 11-6). Ozturk brought matters to a conclusion by overcoming Merrien (11-6, 12-10, 11-8).
Ukraine’s Maksym Nikolenko followed up his gold medal success from Rio 2016 by teaming up with Mykaylo Popov to take the men’s class 7 title. The Ukrainian tandem defeated Thailand’s Rungroj Thainiyom and Charlermpong Punpoo.
“Prior to the World Championships, we had a lot of good practice sessions and prepared very hard. Mykhaylo and I have very good team spirit; we supported each other during the doubles match. Playing against Thainiyom, I tried to play with my forehand as much as I could; it is not so effective playing with my backhand,” Nikolenko said.
Complete results from the 2017 Para Table Tennis World Team Championships can be found at the ITTF’s website.