Both on duty at the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games, both on that occasion gold medallists; on Saturday 5th June at the Paralympic World Qualification Tournament in Lasko, it was mixed fortunes for Gilles de la Bourdonnaye of France and Germany’s Jochen Wollmert.
Gilles de la Bourdonnaye, who had won men’s singles class 10 gold, now over a quarter of a century ago, booked his Tokyo place. Competing in the same category, the 48-year-old, the no.2 seed, at the final hurdle beat Poland’s Igor Misztal, the top seed (11-6, 11-4, 4-11, 9-11, 11-8).
Conversely, in class 7, Jochen Wollmert, gold medallist in men’s team class 6-8 in Atlanta and the no.2 seed in Lasko, also faced Polish opposition in his title decider, but was beaten by Maksym Chudzicki, the no.3 seed (12-10, 12-10, 11-7).
Quite incredibly Jochen Wollmert, now 56 years old, has competed in every Paralympic Games since 1992, three times being the men’s singles class 7 gold medallist.
Success for prominent names but only three players who started proceedings in the top seeded positions emerged successful.
In class 5, Great Britain’s Jack Hunter-Spivey, who experienced defeat in his opening match in the tournament two days earlier when losing to Russia’s Grigorii Isakov (11-13, 11-6, 11-9, 11-3), was very much back in form. He overcame Germany’s Jörg Didion (11-5, 11-3, 14-12) to secure his Tokyo ticket.
Convincing, it was the same for Ukraine’s Ivan Main in class 9, as it was from Japan’s Koya Kato in class 11; both justified their top seeded position. At the final hurdle, Ivan Mai beat Russia’s Iurii Nozdrunov (11-5, 6-11, 11-7, 13-11); Koya Kato ousted Korea Republic’s Kim Changgi, the no.2 seed (11-6, 11-8, 10-12, 10-12, 11-8).
Tokyo places for three top names, it was the same for three second seeds.
Russia’s Dmitry Lavrov beat Finland’s Timo Natunen to claim the class 1 title; Vladimir Toporkov succeeded in class 3, overcoming Poland’s Maciej Nalepka, the top seed, in the final (6-11, 14-12, 11-7, 11-6). Likewise, Italy’s Matteo Parenzam prevailed in class 6, overcoming Japan’s Kazuki Shichino in the vital contest (11-9, 12-10, 11-8), the surprise penultimate round winner in opposition to Spain’s Alberto Seoane, the no.3 seed (7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-6).
Somewhat similarly, Slovakia’s Boris Travnicek, the no.3 seed, secured the class 4 title. Hard fought contests, he beat Spain’s Francisco Lopez, the top seed (11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10) in the semi-finals, before securing gold by overcoming Frenchman, Alexandre Delarque, the no.2 seed (12-10, 8-11, 11-13, 11-9, 11-9).
Tokyo places for leading names but there were two major surprises; not listed amongst the top seeded players, Thailand’s Thirayu Chueawong emerged the winner in class 2, Frenchman Clément Berthier in class 8.
In the deciding contest Thirayu Chueawong overcame Italy’s Federico Cossara (11-8, 7-11, 18-16, 7-11, 11-4), having one round earlier upset the order by ousting Korea Republic’s Kang Changyoung, the top seed (4-11, 11-8, 11-9, 15-13).
Hard earned success, it was very much the same for Clément Berthier; in the final, he needed four games to end the hopes of Sweden’s Linus Karlsson, the no.2 seed (10-12, 11-4, 11-9, 11-6).
by Ian Marshall, www.ittf.com