21/04/2024
Lei Li Na claimed Australia's first Paralympic Table Tennis Gold in 37 years.

Lei Li Na claimed Australia's first Paralympic Table Tennis Gold in 37 years. Photo: Table Tennis Australia - Twitter

Lei Li Na is once again a Paralympic Champion, winning Australia's first gold in the Table Tennis in 37 years at her first Paralympics representing Australia.

Lei Li Na wrote herself into Australian history tonight as the first Australian since Terry Biggs in 1984 to win Table Tennis Gold at the Paralympics, defeating China’s Xiong Guiyan in five games (11-6, 5-11, 5-11, 11-9, 5-11).

Tonight isn’t the first time Lei has won Paralympic Gold, however, formerly representing China, the 33-year-old has won five Paralympic Gold Medals and three silver between Athen’s 2004 and Rio 2016.

Despite her previous Paralympic success Lei was the underdog coming into the match, ranked fourth in the world and against a former teammate, the current world number one Xiong Guiyan.

This gave Lei an advantage that other’s might not have had, the former teammates have a history of playing against one another and while it had been some time since they’d faced off Lei had more knowledge about what was in Xiong’s skillset than most would.

It was by no means a boring match with each game lasting five minutes momentum was on Xiong’s side early, winning the first game with ease it seemed like Lei needed to warm up more to get into the match.

Despite dropping the first game Lei was back into the match quickly winning the second game with ease, winning seven points off of her own serve.

She looked just as good in the third winning six consecutive points before letting Xiong back into the set for a moment and electing to take a time out, following the time out she was back firing taking out the game leaving her one away from a gold medal.

The fourth game wasn’t quite as smooth, with points going back and fourth, neither player had a lead greater than two for the game and it was Xiong being slightly better off of her own serve that was the difference in the end.

Lei could see gold in her sights in the fifth game and wasn’t giving it up leading from the start all too quickly it was 3-10 and the Australian had seven Gold Medal Points in hand. It took three to claim the gold medal, allowing Xiong back into the game momentarily before a shot from Xiong that went past the edge of the table finished the match.

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Not only was Lei’s win the first Table Tennis gold for Australia since 1984 but it was the first time an Australian had taken out the Women’s Singles Gold in any class and she was the first Australian woman since Daphne Ceeney and Marion O’Brien won Doubles C Gold at the Tokyo 1964 Paralympics.

The Australian Table Tennis team will walk away with its best medal haul from any Paralympics after Lei and Yang Qian’s gold medals tonight and with the team event still to come there is the opportunity to take home more medals.

Lei and Yang will team up along with Melissa Tapper in the Women’s C9-10 Team event against Hungary in the quarter final at 11:00 am on Wednesday September 1.

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