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Table tennis contender Partyka into Paralympic semifinals
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19:39, September 08, 2008

Polish Natalia Partyka took another two group stage wins on Monday's table tennis tournament and booked her semifinal berth at the Beijing Paralympic Games.

Natalia Partyka of Poland returns the ball during a Women's Individual (Class 10) Group A match against Audrey le Morvanat of France at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games table tennis event on Sept. 7, 2008. Partyka won 3-0. The 19-year-old Polish player, who was born with a right arm that ends at the elbow, is the Paralympic champion in Athen 2004. Before defending her Paralympic title, she played in the table tennis team event at Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, which made her one of only two athletes, along with South African swimmer Natalie du Toit, to compete in both Olympic and Paralympic in Beijing.(Xinhua Photo)

Partyka is the only table tennis player in this tournament that participated in the Beijing Olympic Games in August. She played both singles and doubles, 3 matches each, in only 3 team games in the group stage.

Unlike the Olympics, the table tennis game 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.

Partyka, who was born without her right forearm, belongs to class 10. Four years ago in Athens, she already made her fame by winning the Paralympics gold medal in her individual event.

In this tournament, Partyka has qualified for the final round after sweeping her group opponents with triple 3-0s, including two matches on Monday against Chinese Hou Chunxiao and Li Yuqiang. Li was the bronze medalist in the Athens Paralympics.

"It is the first time I play with this girl (Hou). I didn't know her before," Partyka said after the match against Hou. "I knew I had to concentrate from the beginning. I am very happy that I won 3-0."

"I think she was playing very, very good. If she didn't win a medal at this Paralympics, after 4 years, for sure she can be able to win," she added.

Influenced by her only older sister, Partyka started to play table tennis when she was 7-year-old. Her sister stopped, but she just carried on.

"I know many people think that I am going to win the gold medal easily, but for me during the Para, it is not so easy. I have to be concentrated on the next matches," she said.

The 19-year-old girl just finished her high school this May, and devoted herself to the training sessions for both the Olympics and the Paralympics.

"Both Olympics really look the same, only players are different. The hall, the atmosphere, and everything is the same, so, no difference," she said.

"Table tennis is the most important thing for me, so I'd like to play as good as I can, and as long as I can.

"I am 19, and I know I have to practice a lot if I want to be a good player. I'd like to take part in after 4 years, and after 8 years, so I have to practice a lot," she said.

Partyka is one of the only two people participate in both Olympic and Paralympic Games. The other is Natalie du Toit, South Africa's swimmer, who takes part in both Olympic 10-kilometer open-water swim and Paralymic women's 100 butterfly and freestyle.


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