Glories of Paralympic Table Tennis!

The table tennis was absolutely fantastic.  The skill level was extremely high and there were six games being played at separate tables at the same time!

The Spaniard with his flicky service, the Dutchman who hurtled the ball ten feet in the air, caught it on the bat and served, the Ukrainian with his powerful smashes and the deft Malaysian: we were thrilled by them all.  We stayed on to watch the British team and that was so stunning the whole experience is a lifetime memory.

There were three players in our men’s team yet only two in others.  We watched two British women, Sara Head and Jane Campbell play in wheelchairs with totally different styles.  Head thrust the ball at Korea, who did not behave with the best of intentions by shouting savage delight in the British girl’s face when she won a point.  Playing in a wheelchair must be a huge strain on the body because the upper torso is moving.  Before each point Head composed herself and you could see the huge effort she was putting into it.  Then Campbell came on for her set with sweeping shots that were graceful and forced her opponent to stretch in different directions.

We did not agree with the judge’s decision to award a particular point to Korea.  From our seats it looked like the ball hit the table before hitting her arm but the point was awarded to them.  After the British coach’s objection, a judge came over from the main Judges’ panel.  There was a TV camera watching.  Why didn’t they check the footage?  Of two judges beside the court, one had a screen, the other was watching.  It is so fast that it is very difficult to see but the spectators were watching from an elevated position.

The men’s team played the Dutch who were uniformly brilliant.  We were captivated.  Britain won and then we played the Poles.  Again the standard was amazing and we were on the edge of our seats as the battle flashed back and forth.   “Wilson”, whose name was chanted around the arena,  played with incredible bursts of superstar talent and he is still very young.  We were at match point and suddenly, as in all of the other games we saw, the points flicked the other way.  We were devastated.  Credit to the ‘Polska’ contingent behind us.  A great job, congratulations.  The British team also played fantastic table tennis and gave us a memory to cherish and the following day the team achieved a bronze medal!  Team was Will Bayley, Ross Wilson and Aaron McGibbin.  Apologies for not putting that earlier.  They were facing us and we only saw Wilson, Campbell and Head from the back.

All three medal winners (Poland, Spain, Britain) thrilled the arena with their displays of talent.   including Will Bayley’s earlier bronze medal.  Brilliant. We came out glowing  and bumped into the fencing audience.  They were glowing too with the thrill of it and a father gave his children such a great demonstration, that we all stopped to watch.

Brilliant. Amazing.  Stupendous hard work and great talent.  All of them.  Every player in every arena had overcome blistering odds to be there.  What an inspiration to us all to get on with it and do better.

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