Australian table tennis star beats world No. 1 to win gold medal at Tokyo Paralympic Games
- Lina Lei and Qian Yang have won the women’s singles table tennis final
- Lei won her sixth gold medal by beating the world’s No. 1 Xiong in the Class 9 category.
- Yang added to the gold medal an hour later and won the class 10 category
- The pair broke Australia’s 37-year gold medal drought in Paralympic table tennis
Australia’s 37-year gold medal drought in Paralympic table tennis has come to a glorious end after Lina Lei and Qian Yang won their respective women’s singles finals in Tokyo
Representing China until a few years ago, Lei became a six-time Paralympic gold medalist after coming from behind and beating the world No. 1 Guiyan Xiong in the Class 9 women’s singles.
Lei won three games to two, winning 6-11 11-5 11-5 9-11 11-5, becoming the first Australian to win a Paralympic gold medal in table tennis since Terry Briggs in 1984.
Australia’s Lina Lei (pictured) and Qian Yang have won gold in their respective categories of the women’s singles final table tennis
An hour later, Yang added another gold medal to Australia’s tally with a three-on-one win over Brazil’s Bruna Costa Alexandre in the women’s class 10.
It increased Australia’s gold medals in Tokyo to 10.
Yang was only four points away from victory with a 7-2 lead in the fourth before getting a big case of nerves.
Costa Alexandre took the next five points to tie the scores, but Yang held her nerve when it mattered most to secure the win.
The pair have broken the 37-year drought of the Australian gold medal in Paralympic table tennis
It was her first gold medal at the Paralympics in singles after winning silver in both Rio and London in a battle for China.
“I was a little nervous at first, but after she (Lei) won, I felt more confident,” Yang said of the impact of Lei’s win.
“I’m very happy (to win) because it’s my first time representing Australia.”
Lei had already won five Paralympic gold medals – including two singles – while competing for China.
She now has a gold medal in singles to her name representing Australia.
Lei (pictured) defeated the world’s number 1 Guiyan Xiong in the class 9 for women’s singles and Yang defeated Brazil’s Bruna Costa Alexandre in the class 10
Lei lost a 7-5 lead in the fourth game, but bounced back to shoot out to a 5-0 lead in the fifth.
From there, she was never in the lead, sealing the win on her third match point.
‘I am very happy. But more than that, I just wanted to enjoy this match,” she said.
“I didn’t think too much about what the outcome would be. I did not expect it. I told myself to look at it point by point.
“I did well in the second and third game. In the fourth, my mentality was not great. In the fifth, I told myself I had to be more decisive.
‘We have played many times. Our levels are close. The main difference is our mentality and tactical adjustments.’