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Roundup: Chinese table tennis players in good form at Beijing Paralympics
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09:23, September 08, 2008

All but six Chinese table tennis players defeated their opponents at the Beijing Paralympics here on Sunday.

The table tennis tournament in Paralympics is separated into 10 classes depending on players' disabilities. The smaller the number is, the more severe their disabilities are.

Classes 6 to 10 are for standing competitors while classes 1 to 5 are for players seated on wheelchairs.

"European countries started to develop table tennis games for disabled people in the 1950s, much earlier than we started, but we have been improving," Chinese coach Heng Xin told Xinhua earlier.

Yet Chinese contenders showed pretty good form in Sunday's matches.

Zhang Xiaoling, five-time Paralympic gold medalist for both team and individual events in class 8, downed two group opponents Jane Karla Rodrigues and Marleen Bengtsson Kovacs 3-0. Kovacs was the silver medalist in the Athens Paralympics in the class 6-8.

"Energy wouldn't be a problem for me, although I am 51 years old. I haven't thought much about the 11th gold medal nor weather I would come for the next Paralympics," Zhang said.

"What really matters is the Paralympics set a stage for us. It is a brand new start for us, and I really enjoy being here," she added.

Her teammate, Zhang Ying, also took out two of her group opponents in class 5 with two clean 3-0 victories.

"Indeed we have some advantages in women's class 4-5. In the 2006 World Championships, we won both team and individual events," Heng said. "In women's class 8, Zhang has won all the 10 gold medals in the past five Games, and she still has good chances this time."

Chinese Ge Yang and Ma Lin both triumphed in men's class 9-10 in a score of 3-0 with their compatriot Lu Xiaolei losing in straight sets.

Lu Xiaolei and Ge Yang both attended the Athens Paralympics and won an individual silver and team gold, respectively. The youngest of the three, Ma Lin, a 19-year-old debutant, claimed his victory with close set scores.

"It is my first Paralympics and also the first match in the tournament, I felt a bit nervous and thus made several mistakes," Ma Lin said after the match against Ukrainian Vadym Kubov. He won 11-8, 11-7 and 11-8.

In other matches, Germany's 2004 Athens Paralympics class 6 defending champion, Daniel Arnold, upset Chinese Chen Chao 3-2, while Jochen Wollmert, Athens silver medalist in class 7, beat British Will Bayley.

"I think he (Bayley) is too young for the Beijing Paralympics, but he trains very hard and I think he has a good chance to win in the 2010 World Championships in Korea," Wollmert said.

However, the defending champion of men's class 1, Holger Nikelis from Germany, lost to French Jean-Francois Ducay 3-2.

Chinese Gao Yan was upset by the Asian Championships winner Kim Kyung-Mook in class 2. Qin Xiaojun in class 7 lost to Spain's Alvaro Valera 3-1, and Li Manzhou in class was defeated by Richard Csejtey from Slovakia 3-2.

Hou Chunxiao in women's class 10 lost to her teammate Li Yuqiang 3-2.

The top two group winners in men's class 1 and women's class 9 and class 10 will progress to the final round, as there are only eight contenders in the group stage, while in other groups only the top winner advance to the finals.

Source: Xinhua

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