After winning my individual gold medal, I also had to participate in the team event. This involves playing with a fellow countrywoman who has a similar level of disability against another country with two players. You play a maximum of three matches and always start with a ‘doubles’ match: a two-on-two game. The first team to win two out of three matches advances to the next round. In total, eight countries participated in this competition, and due to time constraints, it was played in a knockout format – 8 teams in the quarterfinals, with the 4 winners advancing to the semifinals, and the winners of those playing in the final.
Usually, I am the sole Dutch player during the Paralympic Games, but this time, I had the company of Frederique van Hoof. Frederique is still young, trains at Papendal, and competes in class 8, having earned a Paralympic spot with a ‘wild card’.
The first match was played on August 31st against Norway, and we won the doubles 3-2. Afterward, I played against the Norwegian player Nora Korneliussen and won quite comfortably 3-0, securing our spot in the semifinals.
On September 1st, we faced Russia, including my opponent from the singles final, Viktoriia Safonova. The game scores in the first match were very close, but Frederique and I managed to win the doubles. Then, Frederique lost to Viktoriia, and the third match between me and Raisa Chebanika determined who would advance to the final. I won this match 3-0 as well, securing our place in the final.
Today, on September 2nd, at 04:30 Dutch time, we faced China, the clear favorite. Two Chinese players had won gold and silver in class 8, so we knew it would be tough. Unfortunately, we lost the doubles 3-0, and Frederique also couldn’t secure a win in her match. As a result, we lost the overall match 2-0 and had to settle for the silver.
Happy with the result
Nevertheless, we can look back with great satisfaction on our first team event together. Returning to the Netherlands with a silver medal, despite having no expectations beforehand, is a wonderful feeling. Personally, I see it as the proverbial cherry on top of the beautiful cake I had already won.
I’ll be flying back to the Netherlands on Saturday, and I’ll be glad to be back in Dongen. It was an intense tournament with a fantastic result, but the fatigue is catching up with me now. I’m sure we’ll see each other again in our lovely town.
Best regards, Kelly