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Australian table tennis is celebrating a near-clean sweep of the Oceania Para Championships that has earned six players qualification to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

Australians won nine of the 10 events they entered at the tournament in the Solomon Islands, proving that momentum from the immensely successful Tokyo 2020 campaign remains strong.

Those who earned qualification by winning gold were team captain Nathan Pellissier, who is bound for his second Paralympics, Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Qian Yang and Tokyo dual silver medallist Ma Lin.

The legendary Danni Di Toro sealed a place on her eighth Australian Paralympic Team, while Chris Addis and Jessy Chen achieved emotional wins to each earn their first invitation to the Games.

“Personally I couldn’t have hoped for anything better,” Pellissier said. “As a team, it was amazing to have so many good results. It’s so good to see the team progressing and holding its form from Tokyo.”

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Pellissier said he was especially happy for Addis, who first played in the national team in 2011, stopped to care for his young family and returned midway through 2022. Addis beat teammate Caleb Crowden in the Class 4 classification.

“It was really pleasing to see Chris come back and cement his spot in the Paralympic team. It was a really good moment for the whole team. It’s a shame for Caleb, but he’s young and has time.”

Meanwhile, Chen’s ticket to Paris involved returning to the country where he acquired his impairment before the family moved to Australia.

“Jessy’s worked hard and tried to qualify a few times for the Paralympics,” Pellissier said.

“He’s a great guy and I’m very happy for him.”

The Oceania Championships yielded six players qualification for Paris but Australia’s team will likely grow, as some classes at the tournament were combined and also because players who didn’t win gold might still qualify through their world ranking early next year.

For example, Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Lina Lei, who is a Class 9 player, had to compete in a draw that combined with Class 10 players, including fellow Australians Melissa Tapper and eventual gold medallist Qian Yang. Yet, Lina will likely qualify for Paris through her world ranking in Class 9, which is currently No.3.

Regardless of the outcome at the Games next year, Pellissier is thrilled with the group’s development.

“To match our performance in Tokyo will be very difficult,” he said. “But I think as a team we’re much more together now and we’ll do anything for each other to get those results

“I think you’ll see more of the same and hopefully some younger players qualifying in the next couple of months as well. I hope we can win a lot of medals in Paris.”

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Australia’s Oceania Para Championships Winners:
GOLD – Qian Yang Class 7–10 Women’s Singles
GOLD – Lin Ma Class 9-10 Men’s Singles
GOLD – Nathan Pellissier Class 8 Men’s Singles
GOLD – Danni Di Toro Class 2-5 Women’s Singles
GOLD – Chris Addis Class 4 Men’s Singles
GOLD – Jessy Chen Class 3 Men’s Singles
GOLD – Lin Ma/ Nathan Pellissier Men’s Doubles Class MD14-18
GOLD – Nathan Pellissier/Lina Lei Mixed Doubles Class 17-20
GOLD – Danni Di Toro/Jessy Chen Mixed Doubles Class XD7-10

By: David Sygall, Paralympics Australia
Posted: 28 November 2023
Image: Table Tennis Australia