Lasko-Celje 2018: Six table tennis takeawaysWhat we learned from the World Championships 23 Oct 2018
The 2018 Para Table Tennis World Championships saw 21 titles awarded on 21 October in Lasko-Celje, Slovenia. With so many medal events, here are six things we learned:
1. Kelly van Zon is back
One of the biggest upsets last year saw the three-time Paralympic champion crash out of the European Championships in the semi-finals despite being the huge favourite.
It was a mere dent on an otherwise illustrious career, but the Dutch ace still needed to prove she was the dominant force in the women’s class 7.
In Lasko-Celje that is exactly what she did, winning four open meets before once again clinching gold at the World Championships. She beat Turkey’s Kubra Korkut 3-1 to make it three successive titles.
2. Class 6 clash
Trying to predict the men’s class 6 winner has almost become a lottery.
For nearly a decade, Denmark’s Peter Rosenmeier, Spain’s Alvaro Valera and Thailand’s Rungroj Thainiyom have been among the top three.
It looked like Rio 2016 Paralympic champion Rosenmeier might be falling off the pace after a disappointing 2017 European campaign where he failed to medal. 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.
3. Kim Hyeon Uk’s quick rise
Kim’s silver at the 2017 Asian Championship was his first major career medal and he surpassed all expectations at this year’s Worlds.
The 22-year-old 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.
4. Persistence pays off
For years they had tried but it just never seemed to happen for 32-year-old Spaniard Jordi Morales (class 7) and 45-year-old South Korean Kun-Hea Kim (class 9).
They were both without a major individual title, with Morales grabbing silver eight years ago, while Kim had never made a world final.
But their waits are over. Morales crushed some of the competition’s red hot favourites such as Great Britain’s reigning Paralympic champion Will Bayley on his way to the world title. Meanwhile Kim toppled European champion and world No. 1 Karolina Pek of Poland.
5. Dominant Devos
At 18-years-old, Belgium’s Laurens Devos is dominating 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.
6. Partyka’s reign continues
Poland’s Natalia Partyka has been absent from the Para table tennis scene as she has focused on able-bodied events.
But the multi-Paralympic, world and European champion added another gold to her collection on her return to Para competition, re-enforcing her reputation as the queen of the class 10.