JAPANESE STAR: Shingo Kunieda serves on way to gold in the men's singles wheelchair tennis at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Former champions along with home hero Shingo Kunieda stamped their class yet again as 18 medals including six gold medals were contested in wheelchair tennis at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games over nine days at the Ariake Tennis Park.
KUNIEDA’S SPECIAL MOMENT
Post the Rio 2016, Kunieda thought of retiring from Wheelchair Tennis owing to an injury. But five years later, he was standing atop the podium, living a dream at the Ariake Tennis Park.
It was the fourth Paralympic gold medal for the Japanese hero and it has to be really special after overcoming an injury and a lot of doubts about himself. Kunieda defeated Tom Egberink of Netherlands in straight sets 6-1, 6-2 for the gold. This victory also makes Kunieda the only second wheelchair tennis player to win three individual gold medals at a Paralympic Games after Netherlands' Esther Vergeer, who has four women's singles gold medals between Sydney 2000 and London 2012.
Kunieda, who has back-to-back singles titles at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 and the men's doubles gold at Athens 2004, attributed his Tokyo 2020 success to his hard work and the support of his staff that included his coach and wife.
The Dutch strong hold continued at the Paralympic Games as they clinched three out of the six gold medals at stake during the Tokyo 2020 Games. For the record, the Netherlands have won all 16 gold medals in women’s singles and doubles since wheelchair tennis was introduced to the Paralympic programme in 1992.
At the Tokyo 2020 it was no different as Dutch superstar Diede de Groot claimed the women’s gold before pairing up with Aniek van Koot for the women's doubles title.
De Groot had clinched the singles gold defeating local favourite and Japanese ace Yui Kamiji.
The third gold was clinched by Sam Schroder and Niels Vink in quad doubles after battling past defending champions Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson of Australia 6-4, 6-3 in the final.
In fact, it was for the first time a Dutch pair was crowned in the Wheelchair Tennis quad doubles event. And both the youngsters expectedly were over the moon describing it as ‘crazy’ about what they have achieved at such a young age.
OLSSON CALLS IT A DAY
Steven Olsson announced his retirement after bowing out from his fifth Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
The Swedish brought to an end a 20-year career after losing his men's singles third round match to Tom Egberink of Netherlands 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-3 at the Ariake Tennis Park. Olsson has been a six Grand Slam champion, London 2012 Paralympic gold medallist and multiple-time silver medallist in French Open and Beijing 2008 Games.
Struggling with a hip injury for the last two years was the major reason in the Swede’s decision as he admitted of being fatigued for not been able to train as he wanted.
The 34-year-old, who left Tokyo 2020 with beautiful memories of an illustrious career, is now looking forward to spending more time with two kids at home after undergoing a surgery.
DEBUT FOR COSTA RICA
Costa Rica made its first ever Paralympic appearance in the 29 year history of the sport, courtesy of a Bipartite place awarded to Jose Pablo Gil in the men’s singles draw.
Gil, a quarter-finallist at the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games, tried to make the most of opportunity winning the first set but faltered against Abu Samah Borhan in the men’s singles first round match.
Gil bowed out after losing to the Malaysian 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 but the experience would do a world of good to his confidence for future events.