There were some nervous moments, that was for the supporters but eventually Natalia Partyka stamped her authority on proceedings to secure the gold medal in the Women’s Singles Class 10 event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
In so doing, she won the title for a third consecutive time, having succeeded in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. Undoubdtedly in London she experienced her toughest examination.
The 23 year old Polish star, who just over one week earlier had reached the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event at the GAC GROUP 2012 Harmony China Open in the city of Suzhou, was severely tested by an impressive Yang Qian.
Extended Full Distance
Seeded no.1, Natalia Partyka succeeded in a full distance five games duel (11-5, 11-13. 11-9, 7-11, 11-9) against the no.3 seed; the third game, with the benefit of hindsight, proving absolutely crucial.
Natalia Partyka established a lead but Yang Qian levelled at 9-all; the next two points went to the champion elect; had they gone in the other direction, one wonders what may have happened.
Yang Qian, a right handed attacking top spin player dominated the fourth game; just as Natalia Partyka dominated the fifth.
"I'm very happy that I won, it was not easy; everybody wanted to beat me and there was a lot of pressure. I tried my best”, reflected Natalia Partyka. “It was so close, I was so nervous, I was shaking;The Yang Qian surprised me with her good game."
Yang Qian played consistently and true to her country’s tradition displayed good technique and excelled in the rallies.
"It was very hard, this time I had to play five games; trust me, I was very stressed”, admitted Natalia Partyka. "I just want to say thank you to everyone, it means a lot to me that they believe in me; I think it was great to play here in London, there was such a great atmosphere."
Unquestionably the atmosphere has been quite incredible.
"I was very happy to play at the Olympics, it was always my dream; this is almost the same, maybe at the Olympics they play a bit better but here there is a lot more pressure, it is not as easy to play”, added Natalia Partyka. "It has been a really good year for me, now I'm thinking about Rio; to win a medal at the Olympics is now my dream, I want to achieve the same at the Olympics as I did at the Paralympics."
A fourth appearance for Natalia Partyka in the Paralympic Games, she made her debut in Sydney when only 11 years old; for Yang Qian it was a very different situation.
Nevertheless, despite defeat, she had enjoyed the experience.
"I feel really excited because this is my first international competition and also my first Paralympic Games”, said Yang Qian; a silver medal on international debut at the biggest event of all is an incredible achievement.
"Experience is really important for me, especially as I am so young; now my confidence is greater for Thursday's team event; we are all very focused”, concluded Yang Qian. "I feel a little regret about losing today, but I feel I have a lot of room to progress."
Food for Thought
Certainly in the final she gave Natalia Partyka more than food for thought; if they meet in four years time in Rio de Janeiro it could be very interesting, very interesting indeed.
Success for China
Defeat for China but in the bronze medal contest it was success.
Considered, before the tournament began as the greatest challenger to Natalia Partyka, Fan Lei, the no.2 seed, secured the bronze medal; she beat Australia’s Melissa Tapper, the number four seed.
Five Games Win
Fan Lei recovered from a two games to nil deficit to record a five games success; she won 8-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7.
photo Getty Images