Paralympic Hints from Ulsan: China’s Athletes Gear Up for Paris

Female athlete from China competing in Paralympic table tennis.

China’s exceptional performance at the ITTF Korea Para Open in Ulsan could be an early indicator of the fierce competition anticipated for the Paris 2024 Paralympics. The world of sports is dynamic, with new champions rising and established victors defending their titles. As we inch closer to the grand spectacle of the 2024 Paralympics, the various qualifiers and tournaments act as a litmus test for athletes, gauging their form and readiness. The ITTF Korea Para Open held in Ulsan was one such event, where seasoned professionals met emerging talents on the table tennis battleground. Offering not just a chance to shine, but also an opportunity to gather essential ranking points, this event was a perfect window into what awaits us in Paris 2024.

Overview: Ulsan’s Stage

A significant competition offering 40 ranking points for the world standings, the ITTF Korea Para Open wrapped up on 20th August, following three thrilling days of matches.

Key Outcomes: Singles Categories

Amidst the electrifying atmosphere of Ulsan’s ITTF Korea Para Open, the singles categories offered thrilling matches and surprising outcomes, setting the tone for what’s to come in the 2024 Paralympics.

Men’s Singles – Class 3Feng PanfengChina
Men’s Singles – Class 7Yan ShuoChina
Women’s Singles – Class 1-2Liu JingChina
Women’s Singles – Class 4Zhou YingChina
Women’s Singles – Class 5Zhang BianChina
Women’s Singles – Class 8-9Lei Li NaAustralia
Women’s Singles – Class 10Yang QianAustralia

However, not every champion from the Tokyo Paralympics could replicate their success in Ulsan. Notably, Joo Youngdae from the host nation experienced an unexpected quarter-final loss against his fellow countryman, Hwang Seong Cheol.

“Defeat is a part of the game. The real challenge is rising again.” – Joo Youngdae

Hwang Seong Cheol’s journey wasn’t free of hurdles either. After advancing past Joo, he found himself bested by Indonesia’s Thirayu Chueawong in the semi-finals. Thirayu’s victory was short-lived, however, as he was later defeated by Korea Republic’s Park Jincheol.

Chinese Taipei, Thailand, and Spain’s Shining Moments

Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Ming-Chih, Thailand’s Rungroj Thainiyom, and Phisit Wangphonphathanasiri, along with Spain’s Ander Cepas, all began their matches as top seeds and did not disappoint, clinching gold in their respective categories.

The women’s singles saw Korea Republic’s Yoon Jiyu emerge as a triumphant winner in class 3.

ITTF Korea Para Open in Ulsan.

Surprising Twists and Notable Upsets

Despite the general trend of top seeds securing gold, there were a few instances where the second seeds rose to the occasion:

  • Thailand’s Wanchai Chaiwut managed to overcome Korea Republic’s Kim Youngun.
  • In a group-based event for class 10, Chinese Taipei’s Su Kin-Sian took the lead, pushing past Japan’s Mahiro Funayama.

An unexpected turn of events also saw Kim Gitae from the host nation upsetting the odds. Despite being the fifth highest rated in the tournament, Kim, the current World champion, defeated top seed Chen Po-Yen from Chinese Taipei.

Titles for the second seeds weren’t limited to the men’s categories. The women’s singles saw victories for Iraq’s Najlah Al-Dayyeni, Hong Kong’s Chiu Kan Shan, and Japan’s Nanako Hazeyama.

Competing in class 6, Najlah Al-Dayyeni claimed the title against Morgen Caillaud from France, a twist of fate as she had previously been defeated by Morgen in the group stage.

“Every setback is a setup for a comeback.” – Najlah Al-Dayyeni

Doubles Highlights: Pairs to Watch Out For

The women’s doubles category saw Kim Seongok pairing up with colleague Lee Kunwoo for a class 7 victory, while Natsuki Wada partnered with Nanako Hazeyama for class 22 gold. Nanako Hazeyama, Zhang Bian, and Zhou Ying from China were among the few players who secured two titles.


  • Thailand’s Wanchai Chaiwut teamed up with Yutajak Glinbanchuen for a class 8 gold in men’s doubles.
  • Spain’s Ander Cepas and China’s Yan Shuo both tasted success in men’s doubles with their partners.
  • On the mixed doubles front, China’s Liao Keli, having clinched a gold alongside Jin Yucheng, emerged as one of the players with two golds.

Chinese Taipei’s Chen Po-Yen secured gold in men’s doubles with Australia’s Samuel von Einem and, in mixed doubles, paired up with compatriot Li Jing-Shiuan.

The mixed doubles also saw standout performances from Chinese Taipei’s Sin Jin-Sian, Korea Republic’s Park Jincheol, and Feng Panfeng.

The Road Ahead

With the riveting competition in Ulsan coming to a close, all eyes are now on Pattaya. Scheduled to commence on 24th August, the ITTF Thailand Para Open 2023 promises another four days of intense table tennis action and a chance for athletes to earn crucial world ranking points.

The recent outcomes and surprising upsets serve as a reminder that the road to the Paris 2024 Paralympics is filled with unpredictability and excitement, and the athletes will have to be at their very best to secure the coveted gold.

Tennis Expert Andrew Huggard
reviewed by: Andrew Huggard (Tennis Expert)

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