India’s Bhavinaben Patel progressed to the knockout stages in the women’s singles Class 4 table tennis event with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Great Britain’s Megan Shackleton at the Tokyo Paralympics on Thursday.
The 34-year-old Indian (ranked 12) dispatched Shackleton, the world No 9, 11-7 9-11 17-15 13-11 in contest that lasted 41 minutes. She will face Brazil’s world No 8 Joyce de Oliviera on Friday morning in the round of 16. Should she win, her quarterfinal opponent is defending champion Rankovic Peric of Serbia.
Competing in the must-win, winner-takes-all match, the Indian started on a dominant note, clinching the first game in just eight minutes but Shackleton made a strong recovery to take the second.
With the fixture poised at 1-1, the two paddlers fought toe-to-toe in the next two games with the Indian coming on top at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. The third game was especially brutal with the Indian winning it 17-15 after a see-saw battle. In the fourth game, Patel came back from 7-10 down when it looked like a decider was imminent and won four straight points. She eventually sealed the deal 13-11.
This was Patel’s first win in the tournament after she lost 0-3 by world number one Chinese paddler Zhou Ying in the opening round on Wednesday. Patel has three points from two games and moves to the knockout round along with table leader Ying.
Top two from each group progress and in this class there are five groups. So the round of 16 will be a mini-round to determine the last eight for quarterfinals.
Table tennis classification: Classes 1-5 in the sport are sitting classes. Athletes in Class 4 have some sitting balance and fully functional arms and hands. They can move to the front to meet their opponent’s serve. Players in Class 3 have full hand and arm function. With their good arm function, they can manoeuvre the wheelchair while maintaining good balance of their upper body. The athlete’s impairment may result from spinal cord injuries or neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy.
The other Indian paddler in the fray, Sonalben Manubhai Patel however couldn’t make the cut to the next round after she went down 12-10, 5-11, 3-11, 9-11 her second game in Class 3, Group D match.
Having lost both her games, she has failed to progress from what was a tough group consisting of Li Qian, Rio 2016 silver medallist from China and Lee Mi Gyu, world No 6 from Korea.