The Stans Stunned Hong Kong En Route to Rio Olympic GamesPhoto: Courtesy ITTF
Kazakhstan’s Kirill GERASSIMENKO and Uzbekistan’s Zokhid KENJAEV have thrilled the local crowd in Hong Kong at the ITTF-Asia Olympic Qualification Tournament with the stunning performance to secure direct qualification to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games later this year.
By qualifying, GERASSIMENKO has also made history to become Kazakhstan’s first male athlete to play in the Olympic Games table tennis event. Current ranked 195 in the world, he achieved this feat by upsetting local favorite JIANG Tianyi in four straight games (11-9, 11-4, 11-8, 13-11) in front of the home crowd.
“It still feels unbelievable, now that I’m going to be the first male athlete to represent my country in table tennis at the Olympic Games! I still don’t understand what happened, or what I did to win,” shared the elated 19-year-old.
GERASSIMENKO, who also played in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, added that “When I was leading 10-8 in the last game, I felt like I’m in a dream, like I’m already in Rio, and lost my focus. After he catch up to 10-10, I told myself that I need to concentrate! “I will be preparing every day till the Olympic Games, and I hope to just show my game there, and do my best. I must just show my game, if I do that I think I can play well.”
Hong Kong’s HO Kwan Kit faced off KENJAEV in the finals of Draw D in the second stage at the qualifications tournament. Despite being the highest ranked among players participating in stage 2, Ho struggled against KENJAEV, losing 2-11 in the first game, much to the astonishment of the crowd watching the match live. The pair pulled out several amazing rallies during the match, and HO was able to recover from his earlier loss to win 4-1 (2-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8, 12-10) to claim a qualifier spot.
Still suffering from his back injury from the first day of the qualification tournament, India’s Sharath Kamal ACHANTA came back from 1-3 in his decisive match against Iran’s Noshad ALAMIYAN to prevail 4-3 (12-14, 11-6, 3-11, 7-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-6). ALAMIYAN, too managed to clear his path to Rio, eliminating JIANG 4-1 in the later stage.
Chinese Taipei’s CHEN Chien-An secured an important victory for his team, beating Thailand’s rising star Padasak TANVIRIYAVECHAKUL 4-2 (11-6, 11-6, 10-12, 13-15, 15-13, 11-7). Should the Chinese Taipei team’s top player CHUANG Chih-Yuan, world number six, qualify through the world rankings to Rio, the team will qualify to play in the team’s event as well at the Olympic Games.
TANVIRIYAVECHAKUL and KENJAEV played a nail biting final match of the day to conclude the sixth ticket to Rio in the Men’s event. It was JENJAEV who eventually prevailed to take home the ticket for Uzbekistan, defeating the Thai 4-3 (9-11, 13-11, 11-13, 7-11, 11-7, 13-11, 11-4).
In the Women’s side, Korea DPR’s defenders RI Myong Sun, and KIM Song I proved themselves as they cruised past Mouma DAS (India) and Lilis INDRIANI (Indonesia) respectively in 4 straight games, and book their spots at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games singles event.
Rising power in Asian table tennis scene, Thailand secured two qualification positions today as well. Nanthana KOMWONG will be heading to Rio in August together with 2015 South East Asian Games women’s singles champion Suthasini SAWETTABUT, after the duo beat Philippines’ Ian LARIBA and Uzbekistan’s Rimma GUFRANOVA in the groups’ final matches.
After losing to Korea DPR’s RI, DAS was able to overcome the challenge of GUFRANOVA 4-1 to join teammate Manika BATRA, who qualified earlier through stage 1 of the tournament.
Philippines’ LARIBA managed to seize the final qualifier spot up for grabs in Hong Kong, by beating INDRIANI in the decisive match for the last ticket to Rio.
With all 11 men’s and women’s qualifiers being confirmed at the 2016 ITTF-Asia Olympic Qualification Tournament, the losers of the second stage of the event will have to fight for the reserves positions tomorrow at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium.
List of Stage Two Qualifiers:
RI Myong Sun – Korea DPR
Suthasini SAWETTABUT – Thailand
KIM Song I – Korea DPR
Nanthana KOMWONG – Thailand
Mouma DAS – India
Ian LARIBA - Philippines
Kirill GERASSIMENKO – Kazakhstan
Sharath Kamal ACHANTA – India
CHEN Chien-An – Chinese Taipei
HO Kwan Kit – Hong Kong
Noshad ALAMIYAN – Iran
Zokhid KENJAEV - Uzbekistan
List of Stage One Qualifiers (Concluded on 14 April 2016):
East Asia: LI Xiaoxia – China
South East Asia: FENG Tianwei – Singapore
South Asia: Manika BATRA – India
West Asia: Mariana SAHAKIAN – Lebanon
Middle Asia: Neda SHAHSAVARI – Iran
East Asia: MA Long - China
South East Asia: CHEN Feng – Singapore
South Asia: Soumyajit GHOSH – India
West Asia: LI Ping – Qatar
Middle Asia: Nima ALAMIAN – Iran