Australia won a rare silver medal in Paralympic table tennis thanks to a one-armed champion who lost his limb in a bear attack at a Chinese zoo.
Australia won a rare silver medal in Paralympic table tennis thanks to a naturalized Chinese one-armed champion who lost his upper limb under strange circumstances.
Ma Lin became one of Australia’s brightest stars in Tokyo due to his brilliant performances with the paddle and his incredible survival story that made him endearing to his new homeland.
Almost unknown to Australian sports circles despite being one of the best para table tennis players in the world, Ma Lin lost his right arm when he was only five years old when he was bitten by a bear. brown in a zoo in China.
He now resides in Australia and won a medal in his first major international competition after facing Belgian Laurens Devos in the Class 9 Men’s Individual Final at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
Australia have won just two gold medals in Paralympic table tennis – one in 1964 and 1984 – but still have a good chance with three other Australians to qualify for the gold medal in Tokyo.
When he moved to Australia after the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Ma Lin brought two of his closest Chinese friends – Yang Qian and Lei Lina – who are also international sports stars.
Yang Qian faces Brazilian Bruna Alexandre in Class 10 on Monday, immediately after Lei Lina takes on former Chinese teammate Guiyan Xiong in Class 9.
And there’s more.
Sam von Einem – who ended the 32-year-old drought in Australia when he won a silver medal in Rio in 2016, qualifies for Sunday’s C11 men’s final, where he will face the world No.1 Hungarian Peter Palos.
The South Australian qualified for the gold medal after an astonishing comeback against Florian Van Acker, the Belgian who beat him in five sets in the Rio final.
Von Einem had lost all of his previous eight matches to van Acker and appeared to be preparing for another loss after losing the first two sets to come back strong and win the next three.
“I’m over the moon. Overcoming van Acker was something I had been trying to do for so long and now that I’ve done it it’s amazing,” he said.
“After those first two games, I just thought I had to reset and take one point at a time. I think I did it really well, the game finally started to come my way and I came away with the win.