With Asia boasting multiple Paralympic and World champions, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are expected to witness high-quality performances with Games and several World records on the cards.
The world’s best para swimmers will be ready to set the Tokyo Aquatics Centre pool alight when the swimming competition kicks off on August 25, 2021, running over 10 days. The first medal will be decided on the first day itself.
In the men’s events, China will look to dominate and repeat their Rio 2016 show to finish on top of the medals table, while Republic of Korea with Singapore and Uzbekistan will also be looking to make some noise in the pool.
For China, all eyes will be on Huang Wenpan, China’s top S3 swimmer with five gold medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, multiple world record holders and Paralympic champions Li Junsheng (S4), Liu Benying and Zhao Liankang (S2), Li Junsheng (S5), Xu Qing (S6), Yang Bozun (S11), Huang Xianquan and Xu Haijiao, both who are expected to put up a strong challenge in S8 events.
All eyes on China
In the women’s events, China will be banking on Paralympic and world champions Peng Qiuping (S3), Song Lingling (S6) Zhang Li (S5), Xinyi Wang and Li Guizhi (S11), Xihan Xu (S5), Chen Yi (S10) and Xu Jialing (S9), all of them multiple-time Asian Para Games 2018 gold medallists, among others
South Korea will have Paralympic champions Jo Gi-seong (S4), Woo Lim Geum (SB5) besides Rio gold medallist Lee In-kook and Asian record holder Wonsang Cho in S14 events to make their presence at the medal standings.
For the hosts Japan, their medal hopes will rest on multiple-time World Champion and Asian Para Games 2018 champion Kimura Keiichi to bring home glory in S11 events alongside the likes of Asian Para Games 2018 winners Takayuki Suzuki (S4), Dai Tokairin (S14), Yamada Takuro (S9), Mayumi Narita (S5) and Airi Ike (S10) among others.
Singapore bank of Yip Pin Xiu
“When I go to compete in the pool, I shouldn’t be worrying about how my competitors swim. I can’t control how fast they are, only how fast I am. I focus all my energy there,” Pin Xiu has said hoping to produce medal winning performance at Tokyo.
Uzbekistan will also have a strong presence in the pool with their star Fotimakhon Amilova, who broke multiple Asian and Games record en-route to winning four golds in Indonesia 2018, and Shokhsanamkhon Toshpulatova, who won three gold in Indonesia 2018, could be amongst the medals in S13 events.
Para Swimming, introduced at the 1960 Rome Paralympics with 62 events in distances of 25 and 50 metres, is now one of the largest Paralympic sports in terms of the number of events, competitors, and spectators.
One of the keenly contested sports in the region, Para Table Tennis is expected be one of the high points for Asia during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games starting August 25, 2021.
The sport will run over 10 days with the first medal to be decided on August 28, 2021 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
In the individual events, China is expected to rule the roost with the biggest names from the world para table tennis in their ranks. Feng Panfeng, the three-time Paralympic champion and the 2014 World Champion, will be the favourite to win the class 3 men’s singles and doubles events. Cao Ningning (TT5), Zhao Shuai (TT8), Zhao Yiqing (TT9) and Ge Yeng (TT10) are others from the nation who will be among the ones to watch during the Games.
South Korea’s paddlers are also expected to make some noise with Paralympic and Asian Para Games stars like Kim Young gun (TT4-5), Kim Min Gyu (TT2), Park Hong Kyu (TT6), and Nam Ki-Yon (TT1) ready to put up fight against their opponents.
In the women’s competition, China will look up to Rio 2016 Paralympic and Indonesia 2018 champions Liu Jing (TT1-2), Zhao Ying (TT4), Zhang Bian (TT5), Mao Jingdian (TT8) and Liu Meng (TT9) to yet again deliver and add to the medals tally.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Incheon Games champion Lee Migyu (TT3) and Paralympic medallists Seo Suyeon (TT2); and Kim Seong-ok (TT5) and Lee Kun-woo (TT6), Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games medallists, would be eager to put their country on top of the podium in their respective events.
Indonesia will also have some names to cheer on as their veteran paddler Jacob Dian David (TT10), the Indonesia 2018 and Incheon 2014 gold medallist and London 2012 bronze medallist, would be aiming to make a mark in probably one of his last Paralympics.
For the hosts Japan, hopes will rest on Asian Para Games stars Koyo Iwabuchi (TT9), Nariaki Kakita (TT10), Takeshi Takemori (TT1), Mitsuhiro Matsuo and Nobuhiro Minami (TT1-2) to bring home glory.
Para Table Tennis made its Paralympics debut at the 1960 Rome Games. Originally it started with wheelchair users before standing players were added in 1976, and athletes with cerebral palsy joined in 1980.