Six-time Paralympic medallist Yuk Wing Leung and Yuen Cheung clinched the individual gold medals in BC4 male and female events before combining to win the Pairs title as Hong Kong, China finished with five gold medals at the recent 7th Fazza Dubai 2021 World Boccia Asia-Oceania Championships.
Overall, Hong Kong signed off with 10 medals which also had one silver and four bronze to top the medals table followed by Thailand with eight medals that had three gold and South Korea finishing with 10 medals including two gold. Singapore had one gold.
In the female BC4 individual finals, Hong Kong’s Cheung stormed to a 5-1 win over Thailand’s Nuanchan Phonsila while Tokyo 2020 Paralympics bronze medallist Wing Leung overcame Tokyo silver medallist Pornchok Larpyen of Thailand by 4-2 scoreline in the male event.
Later, Wing Leung paired with Cheung to thump the South Koreans Seongyuk Jang and Myungsoon Lee 10-0 in the BC4 pairs finals at the Shabab Al Ahli Club.
‘THIS GOLD IS SPECIAL’
Beijing 2008 Paralympic gold medallist Hoi Ying Karen Kwok had begun the golden surge for Hong Kong with a 4-3 win over fighting Soyeong Jeong, the London 2012 bronze medallist from South Korea.
“I feel very happy. This gold is very special one.”
“I want to continue the momentum. My short-term goal is to win a medal at the Asian Para Games,” said Karen Kwok, who added that the sport has changed her life in many ways right from travelling, meeting new people and living a normal life in a wheelchair.
Hong Kong’s fifth gold medal at the Dubai 2021 event came through Yuen Kei Ho and Tak Wah Tse who topped the pools with four wins ahead of South Korea comprising Yejin Choi and Howon Jeong, who had three wins.
It was definitely a big confidence booster for Hong Kong team to finish ahead of Tokyo 2020 Paralympic gold medalist pair of Choi and Jeong.
Hong Kong coach Lau Wai Ki said the team came into the event with little expectation and thus the “medals here have boosted the team’s confidence as they prepare for next year’s Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, China and World Championships in Rio de Janeiro.”
VONGSA STUNS REIGNING PARALYMPIC CHAMPION
Thailand’s four-time Paralympic champion Watcharaphon Vongsa lived up to his reputation, avenging his Tokyo 2020 defeat agianst Hidetaka Sugimura, the reigning Paralympic champion, with a 10-2 victory in male BC2 finals. Vongsa’s compatrior Worawut Saengampa claimed the bronze in the third-place play-off.
“I am very happy and feel confident looking into next year where we have several important events,” said Vongsa, admitting that Paris 2024 Paralympic Games was already on his mind.
Later, Vongsa led Thailand to clinch the mixed team BC1-BC2 gold recording a 7-3 victory over South Korea.
Worawut Saengampa and Jittra Pensut completed the Thailand line-up, while South Korea had Sungjoon Jung, the individual gold medallist, Soyeong Jeong, and Yongjin Lee in its side.
The Thailand team also had moments to cheer in a female event as Ladamanee Kla-Han displayed impeccable ball throwing skill to defeat South Korea’s Yejin Choi 6-0 in BC3 finals. Choi was part of South Korea’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympic gold medal winning team in Pairs event.
JERALYN TAN WINS FIRST EVER GOLD IN FEMALE EVENT
Earlier, Singapore’s Yee Ting Jeralyn Tan became the first gold medallist in a female individual event since the new rule of separation of male and female events was announced recently, defeating Japan’s Rio 2016 silver medallist in team event, Yuriko Fujii 3-2 in female BC1 finals.
South Korea picked its first gold at the Dubai 2021 event when Sungjoon Jung pulled out a narrow 3-2 win over Hong Kong’s John Loung in the male BC1 finals.
In the BC3 finals, South Korea’s Howon Jeong, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic champion in BC3 pairs, avenged the loss thumping Japan’s Kazuki Takahashi 9-0 in the finals. The result was in fact a repeat of BC3 pairs event at Tokyo 2020, as the Japanese was part of silver medallist Pairs in Tokyo.
As many as 70 players from nine countries competed at the Dubai 2021 event, which was the first championships where the new rule of separate male and female event was being introduced.
The Dubai 2021 also offered regional qualification berths for Rio de Janeiro 2022 World Boccia Championships in December next year, to the medallists.