India’s Bhavina Patel and Australia’s Yang Qian, alongside host country’s Jack Hunter-Spivey, emerged players to claim gold as the first Para events titles at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham were decided on saturday 6e August.
Gold medalist and there was a noticeable common factor, all had achieved medals just under a year ago at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
In fact, in the 6-10 women’s singles category, both finalists had won gold in the Japanese capital; Yang Qian won class 10, Lei Li Na won class 9.
Impressive in the splendid setting of the National Exhibition Center, Yang Qian won (12-10, 16-14, 7-11, 11-9).
Gold for Yang Qian was bronze for Nigeria’s Faith Obazuaye; in the contest for third place, she represented England’s Fliss Pickard (6-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8).
Alas for Fliss Pickard, it was the same result as four years earlier in Gold Coast; on that occasion, she was beaten in the bronze medal match by Australian Andrea McDonnell (11-2, 11-6, 11-3).
Meanwhile, for Faith Obazuaye, it was down a notch from 2018; on the east coast of Australia, she suffered a defeat in the final against homeland Melissa Tapper (7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-3).
Gold Coast was the first time at the Commonwealth Games where para events were included, with classes 6-10 (standing) being held in each of the men’s singles and women’s singles competitions; in Birmingham Class 3-5 (wheelchair) was introduced.
Class 4 silver medalist at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, India’s Bhavini Patel beat Nigeria’s Ifechukwude Ikpeoyi (12-10, 11-2, 11-9) to win the top prize; the bronze went to his compatriot Sonalben Patel, winner of the match for the third place against the English Sue Bailey (11-5, 11-2, 11-3).
Disappointment for the hosts but there was jubilation, Tokyo’s Jack Hunter-Spivey, the class 5 bronze medalist, won the men’s singles gold in class 3-5; a contest in which the was an air of revenge.
In the group stage two days earlier, he had been beaten by Nigerian Nasiru Sule (11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7); in the final they met again, Jack Hunter-Spivey prevailed in four games (11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7).
“On the first day of the competition, I let the pressure get on me a bit too much and I didn’t really appreciate it. After that loss, I made a conscious effort to just enjoy it and play at the level I can do because there are definitely worse jobs in the world. So I sat down with Rushy (Andrew Rushton) and watched the game I lost and thought “I’m getting my revenge – I’m going to beat him like he beat me in the group stages “, and I did it and it’s amazing and I can’t wait to move on now. Jack Hunter Spivey
Silver for Nigeria was also bronze; Isau Ogunkunle beat Indian Raj Alagar to book third place.
The semi-finals and the final of the men’s singles class 8-10 will be played on Sunday 6e August; in the penultimate round, Englishman Ross Wilson will face Nigerian Tajudeen Akunbiade; Australian Ma Lin takes on Welsh Josh Stacey.