One of the most keenly-contested sports in the Asian region, Para table tennis is expected to be one of the high points of the Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games, which begin in Jakarta on 6 October.
The sport, which will run for all eight days of the Games, will be contested by 255 paddlers for 54 medals at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex in central Jakarta.
In the individual events, China is expected to rule the roost with the biggest names from the world of Para table tennis in their ranks. Feng Panfeng, the three-time Paralympic champion and the 2014 world champion, will be the favourite to win the men's singles and doubles class 3 events. Cao Ningning (men’s class 5) and Zhao Shuai (men’s class 8) are others who will be ones to watch during the Games.
South Korea’s athletes are also expected to make some noise with Paralympic stars like Kim Younggun (men’s class 4-5), Cha Soo Yong (men’s class 1-2) and Nam Ki-Yon (men’s class 1) ready to fight for medals.
In the women’s competition, Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games champion Lee Migyu (class 3) and Paralympic medallists Seo Suyeon (class 2) and Kim Seong-ok (class 5) will be eager to put their country on top of the podium.
In fact, given the absence of her main rival, China's Paralympic and world champion Liu Jing, Suyeon will be favourite for the Class 1-2 gold.
But for others, it won’t be easy as the likes of Rio 2016 Paralympic champions Xue Juan (women’s class 3), Zhang Bian (women’s class 5) Mao Jingdian (women’s class 8), Liu Meng (women’s class 9) will be standing in their way.
The hosts Indonesia will also have some names to cheer on as their 33-strong team aim for glory in front of their home fans. Indonesia’s medal hopes will rest on their veteran paddlers— David Jacobs (class 10) and Sutanto Agus (class 5), both of whom won gold at the last edition of the Asian Para Games.
Para table tennis has been part of all three editions of Asian Para Games - Guangzhou 2010, Incheon 2014 and now Jakarta, while it made its Paralympics debut at the Rome 1960 Games. Originally it started with wheelchair users before standing players were added in 1976, and athletes with cerebral palsy joined in 1980.