Sport Ma Lin, Joel Coughlan set up shot at more table tennis gold
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Ma Lin, Joel Coughlan set up shot at more table tennis gold

Ma Lin is hoping to propel Australia to more table tennis gold at the Paralympics. Photo: EPA
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Ma Lin will have the chance to take down his former Chinese teammates after guiding Australia into the final of the men’s team table tennis at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Ma, who won silver in his singles event just days earlier, combined with Joel Coughlan to beat Nigeria 2-0 in Wednesday’s semi-final.

Coughlan and Ma won the doubles rubber three sets to one, before Ma backed up to win his singles match in a five-set thriller.

Ma came from two sets down to beat Tajudeen Agunbiade 8-11 9-11 11-3 11-9 11-8.

Coughlan wasn’t needed for the other singles match given Australia already had an unassailable 2-0 lead in the tie.

In the women’s Class 9-10, Lina Lei and Qian Yang beat China 2-0 to book a spot in the gold medal match against Poland.

Ma had already won teams gold while competing for China in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Paralympics.

But this time he will be against the table tennis powerhouse after switching allegiances to Australia following Rio 2016.

Ma, who lost his right arm as a child when it was bitten off by a bear at a Chinese zoo, will now put an emphasis on recovery ahead of Friday’s final instead of thinking too much about taking on his former teammates.

“For me, it doesn’t matter who is standing on the other side of the table, they are all my opponents and I will do my best,” he said.

“After the two matches yesterday I felt very tired today and I haven’t recovered fully from yesterday. I just tried my best today and I didn’t give up.

“I can recover properly for the final with a day off now.”

Coughlan, a 33-year-old Paralympic debutant from North Queensland, is excited to be in the gold medal match.

“We were off to a bit of a nervy start (in the semi) and we missed a few easy balls but once we got into a groove we gelled well together again and got the win,” Coughlan said.

“As we all know, in table tennis China is always the best. It is going to be a tough competition.

“I faced one of them in my singles competition and got very close so hopefully this time we can get over the line.”

Australia’s 37-year gold medal drought in Paralympic table tennis came to an end on Monday after naturalised Australians Lina Lei and Qian Yang won their respective women’s singles finals.