Indefatigable, a fighting spirit, if necessary changing from his favoured left hand to his right, Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan was the star of the show on Friday 31st August at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Contrary to expectations, the no.15 seed, he beat Korea Republic’s Jeoung Youngsik, the no.7 seed in a tension packed third round encounter (11-7, 12-10, 3-11, 8-11, 7-11, 13-11, 14-12), before overcoming Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.4 seed (6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-5, 11-8) to reserve his place in the semi-final.
It was a landmark performance; one of significance for his country, a fact of which Noshad Alamiyan was most acutely aware but perhaps was somewhat modest in his assessment of the situation. Bronze is secured but silver and gold are still up for grabs.
“This is the second singles bronze medal for Iran in 52 years. I’m so happy; many plans have been put in place to enable my country to reach this stage. It is not by chance. I have trained hard to get here, to win a medal. It was my aim, this was my goal and now I’ve done it; this is the best result I have ever had,” reflected Noshad Alamiyan.
Success for Noshad Alamiyan; overall, for Iran it will be their third ever medal in the table tennis events at an Asian Games. The most successful Iranian table tennis player is Houshang Bozorgzadeh; he won Men’s Singles bronze in 1966 in Bangkok, having in 1958 in Tokyo, gained the same colour in the Men’s Team event. On that occasion he lined up alongside Amir Ehteshamzadeh, Hamid Korloo and Edmond Beitkhoda.
A surprise semi-final place for Noshad Alamiyan; the remaining names were as according to current ranking. China’s Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan, in addition to Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu, booked penultimate round places.
Fan Zhendong, the top seed, beat Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit, the no.12 seed (11-3, 11-5, 11-4, 11-13, 11-4), prior to overcoming Japan’s Jin Ueda, the no.8 seed (11-3, 11-3, 11-5, 11-7). Likewise, Lin Gaoyuan, the no.2 seed, accounted for Singapore’s Gao Ning, he no.13 seed (11-3, 11-6, 10-12, 11-7, 11-8), before inflicting more pain on Japan by ousting Kenta Matsudaira, the no.6 seed (14-16, 11-3, 11-3, 11-2, 10-12, 11-8).
“I have never played against Jin Ueda before, so I prepared fully prior to the match. The first two games went well according to my expectations; then I was able to take full control of the match. I was in good form today, I had a good feeling for the ball and made few unforced errors”, said Fan Zhendong.
Meanwhile, not to be left out, Lee Sangsu prevailed against DPR Korea’s Pak Sin Hyok, the no.16 seed (9-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 12-10) to reserve his place in the penultimate round, where he ended the progress of Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.5 seed (6-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-8).
“I was very nervous during the match, there were a lot of pressure but as the match progressed, it was better, I attacked more and tried to calm myself down. Finally I was able to win,” explained Lee Sangsu.
At the semi-final stage Lin Gaoyuan meets Noshad Alamiyan; Fan Zhendong faces Lee Sangsu.
“The next match against Fan Zhendong will be tough, he’s a world class player and one of the best in the world, so tomorrow I have to play point by point and not overthink,” added Lee Sangsu.
Play in Jakarta concludes on Saturday 1st September.