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Date
28 Jul 2012
Tags
London 2012 , IOC News , Table Tennis

Veterans shine at ExCeL - London 2012 - Table Tennis

It was an evening for the veteran Olympians to enjoy as the Table Tennis thrilled the crowd at the ExCeL Arena.

Belgium's Jean-Michel Saive and Sweden's Jorgen Persson know only too well what the world's biggest sporting event entails.

Indeed, the duo - much like Croatia's Zoran Primorac, who enters in round two - have competed in every Games that Table Tennis has been part of, seven in total dating back to Seoul 1988.

In the process, Saive - who has won medals in every major event except the Olympics - equalled the Belgian record for the most appearances at the Games.

To make the occasion doubly special, Francois Lafortune Jr - an 79-year-old former shooter whose feat he has matched - watched on as his countryman emerged victorious in an Olympic Games encounter for the first time since Sydney 2000.

Swede Persson, who claimed gold at the World Championships 21 years ago, did not let the fans down either, cruising to a 4-1 victory over Nigerian Segun Toriola.

Despite previously being All-African Singles champion for 16 successive years starting in 1995, Toriola did not command the same level of support as compatriot Quadri Aruna.

In a theatrical performance, Aruna got the crowd on side and eventually produced the day's biggest shock, knocking out Spain's Carlos Machado, who is ranked 80th in the world, 156 places higher than his opponent.

In a round of surprises, India's Soumyajit Ghosh toppled Gustavo Tsuboi, of Brazil, and Egypt's El-Sayed Lashin overcame Sweden's Par Gerell.

Home favourite Paul Drinkhall gave the crowd something to cheer by beating Kuwait's Ibrahem Al-Hasan, while, at the same time, Oleksandr Didukh made hard work of edging past Marcelo Aguirre 4-3.

Meanwhile, in the women's competition, Poland's Natalia Partyka finished off a fantastic opening day of action by edging a thriller against Denmark's Mie Skov 4-3.

Partyka, born without a right hand and forearm, has claimed Singles gold at the last two Paralympic Games and, much like Beijing, will compete in both versions this year.

She excited the crowd late into the night at the ExCeL Arena, sealing a brilliant victory in a quite astonishing encounter at 10:48pm.

Half of the second round in the women's Singles event was completed, with the final eight games to take place tomorrow morning.

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