Bendigo, Australia , April 23, 2014: Australia has made a clean sweep of the 14 gold medals available to them at the K-Sports ITTF-Oceania Cup and Championships, which concluded on Monday 21 April 2014, in Bendigo, Australia.
William HENZELL and Jian Fang LAY won the prestigious Oceania Cup singles titles, which automatically qualifies them to the respective Men’s and Women’s ITTF World Cup’s later in the year.
Despite being down with the flu, HENZELL managed to record a comprehensive 11-5, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 victory over Kane TOWNSEND (AUS), which was his 6th Oceania Cup gold, a record for the event.
After securing the gold, and the ticket to the LIEBHERR 2014 ITTF Men’s World Cup to be held in Düsseldorf, Germany on 24-26 October, HENZELL stated: “It feels great to hold this Oceania record. It was touch and go whether I’d make it as I’d been sick in bed for a few days and had to pull out of the doubles and mixed events. I relied on experience to get me through the final match.”
LAY’s route to her first Oceania Cup title was not as straightforward as HENZELL’s, as she had to save a match point against her gallant opponent LI Chunli (NZL). LAY’s experience was telling in the end, as she won: 11-9, 5-11, 11-2, 11-8, 10-12, 8-11, 12-10 to clinch gold and Oceania’s one direct entry to the ITTF Women’s World Cup.
After the grueling victory, LAY stated: “I’m so excited! I waited to be Oceania Cup Champion for a long, long time, because I lost many times during the finals. But today, I had a little bit luck, and won the last point. But I did it finally, I won this match, I’m so excited!”
In addition to the Oceania Cup triumph, Australia also won the other 12 Oceania Championships gold medals available to them, to confirm their position as the number one table tennis country in Oceania.
The gold medals staying in Australia are: Men’s Team, Women’s Team, U21 Men’s Team, U21 Women’s Team, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles, U21 Men’s Singles, U21 Women’s Singles, U21 Men’s Doubles, U21 Women’s Doubles and U21 Mixed Doubles.
The surprise of the competition was the performances of the Pacific Island nations, who had their best ever Oceania Championships here in Bendigo. This was highlighted by Vanuatu’s Ham LULU & Yoshua SHING’s silver medal in the men’s doubles.
Oceania Cup Champion HENZELL attributes the strong showings from the Pacific Islanders to the ITTF Development program: “This year there has been a notable improvement, especially from SHING. The ITTF has put a lot of effort and resources in over a long period. Wouldn’t it be great if we could see a Pacific Islander win the main event, after I’ve retired of course!”
SHING added a gold from the Pacific Cup men’s singles, which was run in conjunction with the Oceania Championships. New Caledonia also proved dominant in the Pacific Cup events, as they swept the 3 other gold medals – the Men’s and Women’s Team events, and the Women’s Pacific Cup singles won by Cathy GAUTHIER.
HENZELL and LAY join the following players that have already qualified for the Men’s and Women’s ITTF World Cups:
DHS Europe Cup – Lausanne, Switzerland 7-9 February 2014
• LIU Jia (AUT)
• LI Jiao (NED)
• PAVLOVICH Viktoria (BLR)
• FREITAS Marcos (POR)
• MAZE Michael (DEN)
• OVTCHAROV Dimitrij (GER)
GAC Honda 2014 Asian Cup – 20-22 March 2014:
• DING Ning (CHN)
• LI Xiaoxia (CHN)
• YU Mengyu (SIN)
• MA Long (CHN)
• MITZUTANI Jun (JPN)
Current World Champion’s ZHANG Jike (CHN) LI Xiaxiao (CHN) *also qualified through Asian Cup. —- Photo by: Andrew Perryman (Bendigo Weekly)/ ITTF
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