12-year-old cerebral palsy athlete makes Paralympic history

12-year-old cerebral palsy athlete makes Paralympic history

Monday, September 12, 2016 12:54 pm


 Belgium’s Laurens Devon (middle) displays his gold medal in the men table tennis Class 9 event at the ongoing Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Belgium’s Laurens Devon (middle) displays his gold medal in the men table tennis Class 9 event at the ongoing Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Belgium’s Laurens Devos has made history in Rio to become the youngest ever Paralympic Games table tennis champion, at 16 years and 28 days old, with his victory in the Men’s Class 9 Gold medal match held on Sunday at Riocentro Pavilion 3.

The young Belgian who has cerebral palsy, made his international debut only in 2014 and claimed double Gold, in Class 9 Singles and Team event at the 2015 European Para Table Tennis Championships. Devos was pumped for a Paralympic title at Rio 2016, braving his way through to Gold without dropping a single game throughout the tournament.

In the historic Gold medal match against Netherland’s Gerben Last, Devos continued his domineering form to win 3-0 (11-8, 11-7, 11-4) and claim his first Paralympic Gold.

“This is a surprise. My goal was a medal, but it is a gold medal, so that’s better than a medal. I didn’t expect to win again 3-0, but yeah, I did it,” shared the newly crowned Paralympic Champion.

“This past night I did not sleep so well because I thought, ‘Ah, I have a semifinal, then maybe a final in one day, I have to play good’. But I won anyway,” added Devos. “I think I can’t play better than this, I played good.”

Danish para superstar Peter Rosenmeier ended Spanish legend Alvaro Valera’s dream for a second Paralympic Gold in 16 years, prevailing 3-2 (5-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6) to take home the Men’s Singles Class 6 title.

Rosenmeier stated “I don’t think it was the best of finals, I was always behind, always having to recover, always mentally under, that was until the fifth game. I think the top spin I played to go ahead 3-1 rather shook him mentally.”

Valera, who has impaired muscle power due to CMT (Charot-Marie-Tooth disease) won his first Paralympic title at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games in the Men’s Singles Class 8 event. With the gradual worsening of his condition, Valera had to participate in lower classes, Class 7 at Athens 2004, and Class 6 at London 2012.

“Silver medal is a great success, I was aiming for gold. Yesterday (Saturday) I nearly lost in the quarterfinals where I was down match point so this is not a bad result. A medal is a good prize,” commented the 2014 ITTF Male Para Table Tennis Star.”

In the Women’s Class 1 Final between Ukraine’s Natalia Kosmina and Poland’s Krystyna Siemieniecka , it was the 33-year-old Ukrainian who overpowered the 2004 Paralympic Champion 3-0 (11-7, 11-6, 11-5).

China took home the remaining two Gold medals given out today at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games table tennis event, with Feng Panfeng and LIU Jing overcoming Thomas Schmidberger (GER) and Seo Su Yeon (KOR) respectively in the Men’s Singles Class 3 & Women’s Singles Class 1-2 events.

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